Nearly 200 people of Phang 2 and neighbouring villages in Muong Phang commune, Dien Bien district, Dien Bien province took part in a recent community event called Love Means Zero Violence. Highlights of the event were a small play written and performed by villagers, and games and quizzes about psychological violence. The event is part of the the European-funded project “Awareness Raising and Voice of Northern mountainous ethnic communities in response to gender-based violence (SUSO)”.

“This community event focuses on the topic of mental violence because we did a survey at the beginning of the project and it showed that very few people realised this form of violence even though it affected everyone’s daily life, “said Nguyen Thi Thuy Linh, project officer at CARE.

With the support of CARE, the Institute for Development and Community Health (LIGHT) and Dien Bien Center for Community Development (CCD), a so-called ‘change agent’ group wrote scripts for the play and the whole event in a hope to increase awareness among fellow villagers about domestic violence and to create opportunities for others to raise their voice and their concerns about the issue.

“If I am the wife who could go nowhere without permission, then I would not agree.”

A woman said so after seeing the play. The play was about a husband who prohibited his wife from taking part in social activities such as training events. The husband in the play used offensive language that hurt the wife and created a tense atmosphere in the family.

“I am a wife, so [if] I have a husband and he told me he’d go out for a meeting, but then actually went somewhere else. He was dishonest with me, and then scolded me. I stay at home to take care of the family. I come home late from work but still take care of the children. Not being able to hear nice words but being scolded, I would feel very embarrassed with everyone.”  – said another woman in Thai language.

The event also received positive comments from men. A man said he supported women’s participation in social activities, for example. He said, “My wife went to rehearse some performance. Other people all went and she followed her friends, not going alone. I stayed at home, so I should take care of the family. ”

“I speak Thai only, I only learned Thai in the past. The grandparents like me just stay at home doing farming, so we don’t go anywhere. Staying at home, I am very happy if I can see my children getting along. But if I have to stay at home seeing my children and their spouse fighting, I will advise them that, as husband and wife, they should not quarrel with each other, that the society is now just, that boys and girls, men and women have the same rights, have the right to participate in meetings and other activities of the village, …” – a man of older age spoke in Thai language. Many people agreed that it’s not just beating that is violence, but even verbal abuse, humiliation, or prohibition of participation in training activities, meetings, exchanges,.. are as well.

This is one among 24 villages hosting the Love Means Zero Violence event in their village from May to July 2019. This series of events contributes to raising awareness about domestic violence in four communes, Muong Phang, Pa Khoang, Hua Thanh and Thanh Nua. In addition, the EU-funded SUSO project also helps to improve the capacity of Reconciliation Teams so that they are better at listening to and and using appropriate interventions to help those suffer from domestic violence.

Take a look at the photos in the Love Means Zero Violence event in Phang 2 Village at the end of May 2019.

The villagers put themselves as characters in the play and creating dialogues they would say in such a situation.

Anyone who can make poetry makes poems, who is good at drawing draws,… Each person has a way to express his or her objections to mental violence

Ms. Quang Thi Kien (standing, far right in yellow shirt) runs the Q&A section on mental violence forms

The villagers participated enthusiastically in the Q&A section