"Across the Storm" exhibition: Break the ice, break the silence

“Across the Storm” is a project conducted by the Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender-Family – Women and Adolescents (CSAGA), a non-govermental organization with 20 years of experience in assisting domestic violence's victims.

(VNF) – The contemporary arts exhibition “Across the Storm” was kick started at the Vietnamese Women’s Museum (Hanoi) on Wednesday (November 15).

Delegates cut the ribbon to launch the exhibition "Across the Storm" (photo: Phi Yen)

"Across the Storm" is organized by the Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender-Family – Women and Adolescents (CSAGA), sponsored by the Embassy of the Netherlands.

The exhibition is one of the activities to respond to the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence which is marked from November 25 (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to December 10 (the Human Rights Day), initiated by the United Nations.

The opening ceremony of "Across the Storm" was attended by leaders and representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Department of Gender Equality (under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs), the Embassy of Sweden, Embassy of the Netherlands, various international organizations and agencies in Vietnam.

The event also captured the attention of lecturers and students of various universities in Hanoi.

Specially, on its debut day, “Across the Storm” welcomed the participation of 20 women working in a traditional market named Bai Da (located in Son Tay town, outskirt of Hanoi). Most of them are the insiders of domestic violence, whose stories are told in the exhibition.

The exhibition is filled with familiar objects in a Vietnamese traditional market, such as leaf conical hat (photo: Phi Yen)

“Across the Storm” exhibition space is inspired by the image of a traditional market in Vietnam, with the presence of baskets, leaf conical hat, bamboo carrying pole, since to the Vietnamese people, market is not only the venue for people to exchange goods, but also a social gathering place. Particularly, in this context, the market is considered a sharing corner where the women can release their pressure, pain, suffering caused by domestic violence.

The true stories of 20 women working in Bai Da market, which are told through 1,000 photos (of which 800 were taken by them) and handwritten letters, are the soul of the exhibitions.

800 out of 1000 photos in the exhibition are taken by those who are affected by domestic violence (photo: Phi Yen)

"Across the Storm" is the fruit of the rentless efforts made by CSAGA project officers, photographer Binh Dang and artist Duy Ly in over one year. With patience, sympathy and sincerity, they have broken the ice with 20 story tellers, encouraging them to ‘break the silence’ about the abuse, assault they were suffering in their family.

In addition to "speaking to share", "story in photo", the project includes other engaging activities, such as Zumba dance, which aims to physically liberate and energize the women, as well as fuel their confidence and courage to stand up for their own rights.

An insider of domestic violence talks to CSAGA Director Nguyen Van Anh and photographer Binh Dang (photo: Phi Yen)

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Pham Duc Tien, Head of the Gender Equality Department (Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs), extended thank to embassies, international agencies, organizations, especially CSAGA, for the tremendous supports for Vietnam in striving toward gender equality.

He also emphasized that the Vietnamese government attaches great importance to the battle against gender-based violence, citing the country's effort in launching the project on Preventing and Responding to Gender-based Violence during 2016-2020 period with a vision toward 2030.

On the occasion, Tien also called for the victims' participations in the fight against gender-based violence. He urged them to stand up and voice up about their sufferings, maintain a close coordination with relevant authorities and agencies, while at the same time, striving to gain control of their own finance, secure a firmer position in the family and society.

Visitors watch documentary on gender-based violence (photo: Phi Yen)

Speaking at the ceremony, Astrid Bant, Country Director of UNDP in Vietnam, showed her appreciation for the initiative of CSAGA in organizing the exhibition. She pointed out that the purpose of “Across the Storm” is not about displaying the statistic of the issue, but the experience of the survivors themselves, which is not only reflected through tears, pain but also in their smile and inner strength. They have ridden across the storm to a brighter future, and become the inspiration for other women who are facing the same-kind hardships, Bant said.

Besides displaying photos and symbolic objects, "Across the Storm" offers the viewers insights into gender-based violence through on-site multi-media medium such as documentary and voice-recorded stories.

Following the exhibition, “Across the Storm” will be continued with the launch of a photobook. Meanwhile, the project will be expanded to benefit women in other areas, said CSAGA representative.

Earlier, CSAGA has published two documentary books on gender-based violence, one is for woman and one is for man.

For the period 2017-2020, CSAGA will work on a model to impact and make change on gender equality and gender-based violence in Vietnam.

The exhibition “Across the Storm” will open for visitors till November 20 at the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, 36 Ly Thuong Kiet Str, Hanoi./.

The project is conducted in partnership with the Department of Gender Equality (Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs), sponsored by the Embassy of the Netherlands, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

( Phi Yen )

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09:44 | 03/02/2023
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