Equipment donation boosts services for survivors of human trafficking and gender-based violence during Viet Nam’s fourth wave of COVID-19
Author: Thao Hoang
Ha Noi, Viet Nam — Essential equipment worth VND 483 million (USD 21,200) has been donated to the Vietnamese organization Peace House, for their helplines and shelters for survivors of human trafficking and violence against women. The donation, funded under the UN Women-UNODC joint programme on Enhancing Women’s Role in Law Enforcement and Border Security to Prevent Trafficking in Person and Transnational Crimes was ceremonially handed over by UN Women last week.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had severe heath and socio-economic impacts resulting in increased incidences of human trafficking and violence against women and children. Viet Nam has seen numbers of those affected rise since the nation’s fourth wave started in April and rights groups have warned that despite Viet Nam’s closed borders throughout the pandemic, traffickers and smugglers have found new ways to continue illicit activities.
To counter these issues, UNODC and UN Women have worked closely with the Ministry of Public Security and in August 2021 delivered a training to 16 law enforcement personnel to increase their capacity to handle cases of trafficking through a gender and victim centered perspective. In addition, UN Women has been supporting the Centre for Women and Development which runs three shelters called Peace House (Ngôi nhà Bình yên) and a helpline for women and children who have experienced violence or trafficking.
In a ceremony on September 30, UN Women Representative in Viet Nam, Elisa Fernandez Saenz, handed over equipment worth VND 483 million (USD 21,200) to the organization. The donation aims to help Peace House improve the accessibility of their helplines, furnish the shelters, and provide a range of other support services. It was funded through the UN Women-UNODC joint initiative aiming at advocating for a greater participation of women in ASEAN law enforcement entities and mainstreaming gender into criminal investigations, and supported by the Government of Canada.
The initiative on providing material support to Peace House builds on recommendations from the research report Women in Law Enforcement in the ASEAN Region published by UN Women, UNODC and INTERPOL in 2020. The recommendations highlight the importance of gender-sensitive facilities that accommodate the specific needs of women and children. This includes ensuring access to separate facilities for women for changing, sleeping and sanitation, but also for breastfeeding and other childcare needs.
Fernandez Saenz stressed how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing limitations on service delivery for women and girls. “Support to upgrade these services is necessary, not only in the context of COVID-19 but in the long term, to ensure the dignity, survival and social integration of women who are survivors of violence and human trafficking,” she said.
The donations consisted of essential supplies such as mattresses, blankets, air-conditioners and kitchenware, to help ensure safe, functional and comfortable temporary homes for the women and girls as survivors of trafficking and violence staying with the Peace House shelters. The donations also aim to improve the compatibility of equipment of the call center services, which is exceptionally important to address cross border human trafficking.
Duong Ngoc Linh, Director of the Center for Women and Development, the agency in charge of Peace House Shelters, thanked UN Women for the efforts. “The equipment given today is a meaningful gift, which motivates all employees who are always committed to the peace of women and children.”
Three shelters and the Peace House counselling rooms are all run by the Center for Women and Development under the Viet Nam Women's Union. After 19 years of operation in Ha Noi and four years in Can Tho, their helpline has counselled on 8,063 cases, amounting to 9,850 survivors over the course of 12,961 calls. In addition, 3,424 women and child survivors of gender-based violence from 50 provinces and 17 ethnic minority regions were supported in-person at the Peace House Shelters.
Peace House Shelters have coordinated with the Ministry of Public Security and local authorities in crisis counselling and emergency intervention, intervening in nearly 30 cases, an increase of 40 percent compared to the same period last year, and are therefore important service providers in ensuring the safety and security of women and girls.
If you, or someone you know is currently experiencing or is the survivor of violence or may be at risk of trafficking, please call 1900 96 9680 for support.
Hoang Bich Thao
Communications Officer, UN Women Vietnam