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63% of Vietnamese Women Abused by Husbands at Least Once in Their Lifetime

In a recently published report, data shows that Vietnamese women are frequently abused by their husband, and these instances of violence happen to a significant portion of the female population.

On July 14, results of the National Study on Violence Against Women in 2019 were presented in Hanoi, painting a shocking reality that Vietnamese women have to face on a daily basis.

The study is the second of its kind — the first was conducted in 2010 — and the latest numbers reflect how the situation has changed over nearly a decade, according to a press release by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). For last year’s study, researchers interviewed nearly 6,000 Vietnamese women aged 15 to 64.

The most prominent figure from the report is the fact that almost two-thirds (62.9%) of married women in Vietnam have been a victim of one or more forms of violence — including physical, sexual, emotional and economic — by their husbands in their lifetime. The number is 32% in the past 12 months.

Between 2010 and 2019, there was a slight decrease in instances of violence, except sexual violence. The study also reveals that such abuse is still largely under the radar in the country: half of the women abused by their husbands had never told anyone, while as much as 90.4% of victims of physical or sexual violence by their partners do not seek assistance from formal service providers.

“Overall, the percentage of women suffering from these forms of violence has decreased slightly,” Nguyen Thi Ha, deputy minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said at the conference. “Positive change is clearly seen among young women who did not endure and showed their strength in fighting against violence. Women who have higher education are less likely to experience violence. This shows that education is very important in helping women to be stronger, more confident and independent in life.”

Abusive behavior not only affects the mental and physical health of women, it also negatively impacts others, such as children born into families with aggressive fathers. Among women who suffered physical abuse at the hand of their husbands, 61.4% said that their children witnessed the episodes or overheard the violence. On a macro scale, the report estimates that domestic violence against women cost Vietnam about 1.8% of its GDP last year.

"Violence is a learned behaviour," the press release says. "Women victims of violence are more likely to have a husband whose mother was beaten or who was himself beaten as a child. These learned behaviours can be prevented, and we must act now."

The National Study on Violence Against Women 2019 has three sections: a quantitative survey conducted by the General Statistics Office, a qualitative study by the Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population, and an economic costing of violence by international experts commissioned by UNFPA. The UNFPA and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provided technical and financial support.

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