Many Vietnamese women believe spousal abuse can be justified: survey

By VnExpress   December 1, 2016 | 12:14 am PT
Abused women remain silent to earn respect from family members or community.

Vietnam's Health Ministry announced that domestic violence cases have steadily increased over the past five years during a conference Wednesday.

Vietnam News Agency reported that the ministry sees as many as 20,000 cases annually. 

Around 97 percent of the nation's victims are women, according to the National Study on Domestic Violence Against Women, co-conducted by the government and the United Nations.

The study showed that between 38 and 58 percent of Vietnamese women who had ever married suffered physical violence from their husbands; half the respondents said they'd never spoken about the abuse.

The study also found that 90 percent of female victims never seek help from women's shelters or other government-supported facilities.

Shockingly, between 30 and 60 percent of the female respondents, including young women, reported believing their husbands' violence could be justified under certain circumstances.

Dr. Hoang Tu Anh, a veteran scholar of domestic violence and gender equality told the government’s online news portal, that the average Vietnamese woman is three times more likely to suffer violence from her husband than anyone else.

The doctor highlighted the fact that many Vietnamese women don’t step up and speak in order to save face.

“Everybody here looks at me with respect," said a 43-year-old woman who'd suffered her husband's abuse for 20 years. "I bet other women couldn't endure what I've had to put up with. I get more respect from neighbors and family members than women who are not beaten by their husbands.” 

In recent years, the government has managed to promote gender equality, raise public awareness about domestic violence, and implement specific laws against spousal abuse. However, the practice persists largely because social stigmas and shame prevent abused women from breaking their silence.

“We rarely see a husband beat his wife in our community," said one local leader. "If there are such cases, the husbands are just abnormal.” 

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