Mental abuse could equal domestic violence: NA delegates

By Hoang Thuy, Viet Tuan   May 31, 2022 | 11:14 pm PT
Mental abuse could equal domestic violence: NA delegates
Silhouettes of people arguing. Illustration photo by Shutterstock
NA delegates may soon designate mental abuse, including couples reading each other's messages or simply not communicating, as domestic violence.

At a National Assembly discussion on Tuesday regarding a draft update for the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control, delegate Le Minh Nam proposed to add certain behaviors that affect the mental health of family members, like checking each other's messages and comparing one's partner with other people, as cases of domestic violence.

Nam said mental abuse works gradually and insidiously, causing lifelong trauma. While there are actions that may stem from love, they can also cause harm, he added.

As the draft update has a lot to do with human rights, Nam suggested policymakers align it with the Constitution and other existing laws.

Delegate Phan Thi My Dung cited several mentally abusive behaviors that could be hard to recognize, like the absence of communication between family members or irrational resentment and bouts of anger.

"These behaviors are common, while Vietnamese culture discourages people from showing their own sufferings. As such, the law needs to include measures to help mental abuse victims," Dung said.

Nguyen Van Hung, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said it's easy to recognize physical and financial abuse, but that's not the case for mental abuse.

Le Xuan Than, chairman of Khanh Hoa Lawyer Association, said behaviors that constitute domestic violence need to be specified exactly.

"Such a law isn't only in support of women, but men too," he said.

Pham Khanh Phong Lan, head of the Ho Chi Minh City Food Safety Management Authority, said images that promote domestic violence in films and books need to be monitored, saying they could "normalize" such behavior.

Tran Cong Phan, former deputy head of the Supreme People's Procuracy of Vietnam, said state intervention should better families, not break them apart. If domestic violence means no contact, fines and prison sentences, without even hearing the opinion of victims, it would "only make it more difficult for them."

"Fines will drain one's finances, but if someone goes to prison, who will take care of the family?" he asked, requesting policymakers to consider the "traditional factors" of Vietnamese families. He suggests reconciliation first, before moving onto punishments.

In April, Chairman of the NA Vuong Dinh Hue also proposed making fetal gender selection a violation on a woman's physical and mental health and considered domestic violence. Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Kim Son meanwhile said parents who are either too harsh or neglect to educate their children should also be considered as perpetrators of domestic violence.

The next discussion for the draft law would occur on June 14.

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