Press Release

26 November 2013

End the silence and impunity surrounding violence against women

Hai Duong, 26 November 2013 - A bold new exhibition marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Viet Nam opens in Hai Duong today, shining new light on the courage of women survivors of domestic violence.

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"Smiling Tears" is divided into three parts: ‘Facing violence’; ‘Stepping up’; and ‘Hand in hand against violence’, and vividly portrays the journey of women overcoming violence. Through personal stories the exhibition presents the brutal reality of how violence is inflicted on women by their closest partners:

“I bought a flower vase, but didn’t expect it to be thrown at me. The flower vase and flowers were broken into pieces; my body was black and blue. Everybody sees flowers and thinks they are very beautiful. But for me, flowers tell a sad story.”

According to the National Study on Domestic Violence against Women released by the United Nations and General Statistics Office in 2010, 58 per cent of ever-married women in Viet Nam had experienced at least one form of violence (physically, mentally or sexually) at some point in their lives. Approximately 50 per cent of victims did not tell anyone about the violence they endured and 87 per cent did not seek help from public services.

“The exhibition you are about to see certainly sends a strong and powerful message about the injustice that women face within the walls of their home - which is supposed to be a safe and happy place for them […]. Through the words of women survivors themselves and the objects used to perpetrate violence, the exhibition shows what violence looks like, how women feel and what they have to endure day after day, year after year. But the exhibition also shows how women can break the cycle of violence, how they can find hope and confidence again with the care and support.” said Shoko Ishikawa, UN Women Vietnam Country Representative at the opening ceremony of the exhibition.

Traditionally, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women marks the start of 16 days of activism. From November 25th until December 10th – Human Rights Day – UN organizations and partners make a special effort to organize and combat violence against women, an intolerable human rights violation. This year, the campaign is raising awareness of the need to engage men and boys.

“Violence against women in Viet Nam continues to be viewed as a woman’s issue. But it is men who primarily commit violence against women, and therefore men need to take ownership of it. Changing men and boy's attitudes and behaviour towards women and girls is absolutely key to combating violence against women in Viet Nam and promoting a more gender equitable society.  Evidence shows that well-designed and well-implemented interventions with men and boys can transform discriminatory attitudes and practices” said Arthur Erken, UNFPA Vietnam Representative.

The exhibition is organized by UN organizations in Vietnam, Hai Duong Provincial People’s Committee and three women NGO’s networks including Gender and Community Development Network (GENCOMNET), Domestic Violence Prevention Network (DOVIPNET) and Network for Empowerment of Women (NEW) to promote gender equality and the elimination of violence against women. It is being held in Hai Duong province and runs for the next 9 days.

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