On November 25th, the American Center celebrated the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women with a panel discussion hosting social activist Tran Thi Ai Lien, Founder and CEO of the Ban Cue Be organization, Dr. Nguyen Thi Hau, Deputy General Secretary of Vietnam Historical Science Association, and U.S. Consulate Cultural Affairs Officer Malikat Rufai. The discussion attracted NGO and social workers, teachers, students, and members of the community. The aim of the event was to raise awareness, highlight laws, and seek solutions to eliminate gender-based violence.
According to a study by the United Nations, domestic violence against women and girls in Vietnam caused total economic damage that accounted for nearly 1.5 percent of the country’s GDP value in 2012. The research also showed that 58% of women experience some type of emotional, physical or sexual domestic violence during their lifetime.
Before the start of discussion, the Center was decorated with banners and posters inspired by the United Nation’s Orange Day campaign to address violence against women and girls. In the first part of the event, Ms. Lien discussed the situation in Vietnam. Dr. Hau pointed out the fact that not many women in Vietnam know about the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control which was approved seven years ago. Talking about the United States, Malikat said “In the past, domestic violence was considered not only a repugnant and awful act but also a “private affair” between husband and wife.” She added that “While the occurrence of crimes against women continues to be a problem in our society today, the hope is that with the continuous passage of laws expanding protection of women’s rights there will be a marked decline eventually leading to eliminating the problem all together.”
The discussion prompted questions from the crowd. Many students expressed their support on fighting to stop violence against women, others were interested in knowing more about the Vietnamese laws on protecting women and girls. At the end of the discussion, participants raised ‘Stop signs’ and yelled out loud “No violence against women and girls.” The IIP publication “Women in the World Today” was also distributed at the event.
The event was well-covered by national press and media. Approximately 15 reporters and An Ninh television were present and interviewed both panelists and participants. With this meaningful activity, the American Center showed that it is not just a place for people to hang out and express their ideas freely, but can help the community work together to contribute to the cause of building a better society.