National symposium on sexual health held in Hanoi hinh anh 1Illustrative photo (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) - In contrast to popular opinion that women and girls can protect themselves by avoiding strangers or unsafe places frequented by criminals, statistics show that 73 percent of assaults on women are committed by acquaintances, and 10 percent are fathers or stepfathers of victims.

The information was declared in the third national symposium on Sexuality, Health and Society with the theme “Cultural and Institutional Barriers to Addressing Sexual Violence in Vietnam” which was launched in Hanoi on November 29.

The two-day symposium attracted nearly 300 participants including legal experts, researchers, programme managers, justice officials, social activists and educators.

Research shows that such criminals are often people considered trustworthy in society such as the elderly, celebrities, teachers and even members of the criminal justice system.

Furthermore, incidents of sexual violence often occur at places which are considered safe such as schools, offices or even the houses of the victims.

Speaking at the symposium, Khuat Thu Hong, director of the Institute for Social Development Studies (ISDS), said, “Sexual violence is a serious crime against women and children, violating the most basic right of humans which is to live safely and with dignity.”

Sexual violence leads to serious consequences for the physical, mental and financial health of the victims. Many victims and their families must strive to earn a living as they had to change accommodation to avoid discrimination. Sexual abuse even led to some victims committing suicide, she said.

Astrid Bant, United Nations Population Fund Representative in Vietnam, said, “Part of the problem is that men think they have a ‘right’ to control women’s bodies and sexuality.”

Sexual violence against women and girls is not a disease for which we need to find a cure. It stems from the way that men and boys look at and value our women and girls,” she said.

During the symposium, representatives discussed victims and sites of sexual violence, sexual education in school, sexual violence and HIV prevention.

Research by the ISDS showed that out of 322 sexual violence cases reported in newspapers during 2011-16, more than 20 percent of victims were aged below 10, and some were as young as 2. As many as 60 percent of victims were aged between 11 and 25. About 13 percent of the cases related to instances of gang rape.

More than 1,000 children are sexually abused per year, equal to about three per day, and the actual number is likely to be much higher, according to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.-VNA