Publication Gender Relations - Southeast Asia COVID-19’s Impact on Domestic Violence in Vietnam

A new series of studies investigates the pandemic’s effect on violence against women in the country



December 2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic prompted nationwide social-distancing measures in Vietnam, isolating more than 95 million people inside their homes. And although the fight against COVID-19 proved impressively effective, another problem emerged inside the homes themselves: domestic violence.

In a recent study conducted by the Institute of Social Development Studies (ISDS) in collaboration with the Hanoi University of Public Health and the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Southeast Asia, 303 women from the ages of 18–60 shared their experiences with violence from their husbands. Among them, 99 percent endured either economic, psychological, physical, or sexual abuse during the lockdown. 84 percent reported experiencing more violence than before COVID-19, while 80.7 percent said they were injured during these fits of rage. Up to 7.2 percent attempted suicide, a small but staggering number compared to only 45 percent who sought help.

Marking Vietnam’s National Action Month for Gender Inequality, the report aims to reveal the severe conditions facing women across Hanoi and the country. The situation is worse than anticipated by researchers, which highlights the need for further actions. Not only are women in millions of families income-less, but a majority are also helpless, trapped in what is virtually house arrest. The project’s launch event featured the People’s Artist Laureate Bui Trung Anh, who rose to fame with his film Come Home, Daughter on the topic of domestic violence. Stakeholders from three NGOs, UN Women, and Facebook for Vietnam supported the launch, which was featured on many official news outlets such as HTV. Despite the intentionally limited attendance of 30 people, more than 6,000 tuned in to watch the event live

The RLS-sponsored series of studies aims to ensure that the existing and coming policies to cope with the pandemic, which are often passed in a hurry, will not be at the cost of the socially vulnerable—migrant workers, women, ethnic minorities, and others who are often politically underrepresented. Specifically, we seek to better understand COVID-19’s consequences by gathering scientific evidence on the pandemic-related impacts on vulnerable groups in the four countries of mainland Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. 

Ultimately, the goal of the series is to boost the voices of politically underrepresented groups, so that they will be heard and taken into account in the ongoing fight against the pandemic.

Download the Study