Int’l teleconference discuss measures to prevent domestic violence amid COVID-19

ASEAN member states discussed measures to protect women and children against domestic violence amidst COVID-19 at an international teleconference on June 5.

Delegates join the online meeting at the Hanoi venue. (Photo: VNA)
Delegates join the online meeting at the Hanoi venue. (Photo: VNA)

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The special event was organised by the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) in collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat and ASEAN member countries.

Delegates at the conference said that the COVID-19 epidemic has not only affected the health of the community but also had negative impacts on children and women. One downside of social distancing measures and the closure of schools, businesses and services due to the pandemic is that they had a negative impact on both the physical and mental health of this group. As the COVID-19 peaks, more than 1 billion children and teenagers worldwide are affected by school closures, while domestic violence is increasing in many parts of the world.

A study on the consequences of violence in Southeast Asia and the Asia Pacific region showed that the total economic damage of violence against children, especially related to the health and consequences of dangerous behaviour totals up to US$209 billion (2012) or nearly 2% of the region's GDP.

In Vietnam, since the first COVID-19 case was detected in January 2020 to June 4, 2020, there have been 328 infected cases nationwide, with no deaths reported. Although the number of infected cases is small, the impact of the epidemic on socio-economic life has been huge and has cannot be estimated accurately, especially in relation to vulnerable groups including women and children.

To prevent domestic violence, Ha Thi Minh Duc, Deputy Director of the Department of International Cooperation under the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), said that her ministry has cooperated with international organisations to develop regulations on child safety and protection at isolation facilities, disseminate communication material on child safety and domestic violence prevention at home and build documents and technical programmes on parenting skills.

The MOLISA will coordinate with the Ministry of Information and Communications and related agencies to organise courses to train children on the safe use of the internet and educational apps, Duc informed, adding that Vietnam will also cooperate with other ASEAN nations to complete legal frameworks to better protect children in cyberspace and prevent violence against women.

To prevent domestic violence against women and children after the COVID-19 epidemic has subsided, participants also recommended that ASEAN members increase informational campaigns to improve public awareness about the prevention of and response to gender-based violence, boost the quality of facilities caring for domestic violence victims, provide training on child protection for social workers, and consider the founding of a fund to support women in the region affected by such violence.