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Australia-funded course helps improving social work for abused women and children during Covid-19

February 27, 2021 | 15:26

On February 26, more than 30 consultants and social workers attend a three-day Australian-funded course to improve social work for abused women and children during the difficult time of the pandemic, and support the victims of domestic abuse.

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Elisa Fernandez Saenz, Country Representative of UN Women in Vietnam (Source: VNA)

Sponsored by the Australian Government, the course is co-organised by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and Vietnam’s Centre for Women and Development (CWD) as part of a project on emergency response to violence against women and children amid COVID-19, according to Vietnamplus.

Participants are currently working at the CWD in Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang, as well as hospitals and social centres in the two cities.

During the training session, they will be provided with knowledge and skills to identify symptoms of stress and types of psychological trauma as well as practice some first aid and psychological care methods.

Statistics showed that, in the context of the pandemic, the rate of violence against women and children in Vietnam and in the world has increased by between 30 and 300 percent.

Nguyen Thi Thu Hoai, a social worker at CWD, said amid surging number of calls to a CWD hotline for abused women and children in conjunction with the pandemic happening, knowledge from the course will help her better approach and support the victims to soon ease their trauma.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Domestic Violence against Women in Ha Noi, Viet Nam

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Photo: Shutterstock

According to Khuat Thu Hong, is the founder and Director of the Institute for Social Development Studies (ISDS), the COVID-19 pandemic has been spreading globally and exerting catastrophic impact on various aspects of life. As of 21 August 2020, the total numbers of infected and death cases that were associated with COVID-19 were 22.492.312 and 788.503, respectively; they are expected to continue to rise steadily over the upcoming months. Besides its visible health and economic consequences, the COVID-19 pandemic has also quietly crept into every single household, escalating a crisis of domestic violence (DV). It has been estimated that there will be an additional 15 million cases of intimate partner violence in 2020 for an average lockdown duration of 3 months, and the number will increase to 31 million cases for an average lockdown duration of 6 months. This type of “crisis within crisis” has emerged since lockdowns were implemented, as DV rose considerably in many countries worldwide.

In Vietnam, since the first case of COVID-19 was detected on 23 January 2020, there have been 1.009 confirmed cases and 25 deaths reported. Nationwide social-distancing measures were enacted under the Directive No.16/CT-TTg throughout most of April 2020, which led to more than 95 million people being isolated in their homes. Home has not been totally safer, especially for women who are victims of domestic violence.

The Institute for Social Development Studies (ISDS) and Hanoi School of Public Health (HSPH), sponsored by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, have conducted a research study aimed at examining the impact of the pandemic on women who were victims of DV in Hanoi, Vietnam. Women’s coping strategies in such situations were also explored.

The study, deployed and implemented from June to September 2020, combined both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. A total of 303 women aged 18-60 living in Ha Noi who used to be victims of mental, physical and sexual violence by their husband/partners were recruited and participated in this research.

The research study found that 99% of couples had marital/ domestic conflicts during the COVID19 pandemic. 34% of women reported suffering from financial abuse; among them 72% were abused more than before the outbreak. 87.8% women experienced psychological violence caused by husband/ partner, with 91% of them suffering this type of violence more than pre-outbreak period. 59% of women suffered from at least one physical violent act; of these women, 93% experienced physical violence more during the outbreak and 56% experienced such behaviors more than 5 times. 25% of women reported sexual violence during the pandemic. 79% of them reported more sexual violence during the outbreak, and 52% experienced this type of violent more than 5 times.

Domestic violence resulted in injury in 80.7% of all cases, with 31.7% of women requiring medical care due to the violence caused by their husbands/ partners. More than half (51%) of victims thought about suicide; among these 7.2% attempted to suicide during the pandemic. Only 45% of victims have sought help for their situation but many of them reported that it is difficult to find help.

Addressing the increase of DV against women during COVID-19 pandemic requires a considerable amount of effort by the government and active cooperation between government agencies, social orgainisations, and communities. The effort may include but is not limitted to: 1) integrating DV issue into COVID-19-related programs; 2) ensuring that women’s voices are listened to, and that women’s organizations have opportunities to be involved in the decisionmaking processes for effective and context-specific approaches during the COVID-19 pandemic; 3) raising public awareness of DV against women during the pandemic and disseminating the supporting information for targeted women need to be carried out; and 4) developing and strengthening support services for women who are victims of DV during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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