Domestic violence (DV) has constituted one of the devastating social problems facing Vietnam for the last few years. It can happen to any household member of any gender and age regardless of their role in a relationship. However, among female victims, who are the most common victims of DV , the rate of those with disabilities is always higher than that of those without disabilities . In terms of legislation, the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control (DVPC) approved in 2007, together with a number of other legal institutions, has built a fairly comprehensive law framework to develop necessary institutional tools that help prevent DV in Vietnam. Although the Law has been established for 15 years, up to this time (2021), many regulations have become outdated or inadequate, not compliant with other current legal provisions as well as failed to satisfactorily meet the requirements of the new practice standards of DVPC. Thus, a new draft DVPC Law to replace the current one is being developed by the Government (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism). This article mainly focuses on some issues related to persons with disabilities in the DVPC Law 2007.
1. Overviews of the provisions of the current DVPC Law 2007
1. Summary of some key elements of the Law
With a relatively comprehensive scope of regulation, the Law has regulated the most important legal issues in DVPC, such as: regulations on the acts of DV  and others strictly forbidden; prescribe the rights and obligations of DV victims and major measures to prevent and control DV, specifically encompasses measures to prevent DV  and measures to protect and assist its victims . In addition, the Law also stipulates a system of DV victim support facilities ; responsibilities of agencies, organizations, and individuals in DVPC, etc. Notably, this Law clarifies the principled position of the State in placing a high priority on protecting the legitimate rights and interests of vulnerable people who are DV victims, namely children, elderly people, women, and persons with disabilities (Clause 3, Article 3, DVPC Law) .
During the implementation process, besides its benefits, the DVPC Law 2007 has revealed many shortcomings, which need to be studied, revised and supplemented in order to improve the quality and effectiveness of a law which constitutes a specialized law on DVPC. its inadequacies are as follows:
- The definitions of DV and identification of DV acts are too narrow to adequately reflect gender violence within family and include common DV acts in practice.
* Firstly, according to the DVPC Law 2007 (Clause 2, Article 1), DV is defined as “purposeful acts of certain family members that cause or may possibly cause physical, mental, or economic injuries to other family members.” This definition does not specify the group of acts of sexual violence, which is on par with the three groups of acts mentioned previously. Meanwhile, international definitions consider sexual violence an act of gender violence (distinguished from other acts of violence) . Besides, the facts show that sexual violence within family is one of the common forms of DV acts .
* Secondly, the system of acts considered DV acts specified in Article 2 of this Law still lacks some that are quite common in practice.
Picture: Persons with disabilities are victims of violent acts perpetrated by family members.
In fact, some people are prevented from exercising a number of constitutional and legal rights such as the right to study, the right to work and have a job, etc. by other family members. Particularly, it is not uncommon for persons with disabilities to be subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by their own family members, for many different reasons . Besides, DV acts within marriage not only include forced child marriage, forced marriage or divorce, and obstruction to freewill and progressive marriage (specified at Point e, Clause 1, Article 2 of the DVPC Law 2007) but also other acts such as forced pregnancy (numerous pregnancies), forced abortion, etc.
- Some measures to protect and support DV victims are still inadequate.
Among the measures to protect and support DV victims specified in the Law, forbidding contact between the violence committed persons and the violence victims upon decision of the Chairperson of the commune People's Committee (Article 20) may be considered as impractical in practice.
It is because one of the conditions for applying this measure as specified in the Law is that the DV victim and the violence committing person are living at different domiciles at the time of contact (Point c, Clause 1, Article 20). However, in practice, when applying the no-contact measure, the victims are most likely the one who have to leave the house. Furthermore, most DV victims are the disadvantaged like women, children, and the elderly. For female victims, when applying a ban on contact, they often bring their immature children with them . Meanwhile, the perpetrators of DV can stay at their homes; and the victims' absence, which is even the wish of the abuser sometimes, may not matter at all. Plus, when leaving the house, female victims of DV (including women with disabilities) are also at high risk of social violence. Therefore, it can be said that the above measures do not really protect DV victims as they are supposed to.
Picture: Women with disabilities are vulnerable yet not properly protected.
- There is a lack of specific legal policies to effectively support and protect DV victims of vulnerable groups, especially persons with disabilities, in the Law.
As mentioned previously, although the DVPC Law 2007 has affirmed the principle of prioritizing protection for 04 vulnerable groups from DV (Clause 3, Article 3), there is not a single provision in it that sets forth the that principle to support and protect specific subjects who are DV victims, especially persons with disabilities. While at present, there are a number of different laws that have prescribed specific policies and measures to prevent DV as well as support and protect vulnerable people from abuse.
Regarding the measures of propagating and educating about law, the DVPC Law considers people suffering DV and persons with disabilities as specific subjects, and it is necessary to suggest appropriate dissemination and propaganda measures . Or, according to the 2016 Law on Children, children with disabilities belong to the group of disadvantaged children (in need of support and protection). Measures to protect children from violence and DV are also drastically regulated by the 2016 Law in different forms . In addition, although the 2007 DVPC Law stipulates a system of facilities to assist DV victims and basic standards of facilities and their personnel to assist victims of DV (Article 26), it does not have any provisions at the policy level to ensure that these facilities meet the requirements of access to works for persons with disabilities. Meanwhile, this issue has been clearly specified in the 2010 Law on Persons with Disabilities and the current law on construction . Moreover, there is also a lack of (principal) requirements for skills and expertise of the staff in DV victim services to better support specific groups such as the elderly, children, and persons with disabilities (especially people with hearing and speech disabilities).
Picture: Children with disabilities do not have a chance to go to school and access quality learning platforms.
It can be said that a lot of backwardness in the 2007 DVPC Law compared with current legal regulations have created a significant gap in policies to support and protect DV victims of disadvantaged groups, especially persons with disabilities.
- There is no national DV hotline.
We all know that currently in our country, there is a national hotline for child protection (111) as per the 2016 Law on Children. However, up until now (2021), there has not been a specific hotline to support DV victims. In the context that the situation of DV is still quite complicated  and the majority of DV victims (especially women and women with disabilities), for various reasons, still hesitate to receive support from agencies and organizations , the hotline for DVPC should be considered as one of the active methods bridging the gap between these agencies and organizations and DV victims, enabling them to quickly seek effective support against acts of DV. As there has not yet been a national hotline to support DV, hotlines of some organizations (e.g. Women's Union) are effective channels doing it instead (victims are mostly women and women with disabilities) in the complicated current situation of DV amidst the pandemic . Therefore, that the 2007 DVPC Law has not yet specified a policy to build a national DV hotline is obviously one of the shortcomings in the system of DVPC methods.
Picture: There is a need for a national hotline to support DV victims, especially women and children with disabilities.
- There is no policy on mobilization of DV services.
Although Article 26 of the 2007 DVPC Law mentions quite a number of types of DV victim support facilities, it does not encompass those providing support/counseling services (e.g., health care, psychological counseling, and legal counseling). Therefore, the inter-agency coordination mechanism in support of DV victims has not been mobilized to the maximum, which is inconvenient for DV victims.
- There is a lack of regulations on widely mobilizing social organizations, professional societies, and individuals in DVPC activities.
Perhaps we all understand the spirit of the DVPC Law: The problem of DVPC is not the responsibility of the State alone, but also of individuals, agencies, organizations, and social organizations. However, Articles 33 and 34 thereof only focus on the responsibility of socio-political organizations (i.e., the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee and its member organizations and the Vietnam Women's Union) without clearly defining roles and responsibilities of other social and professional organizations working in DVPC. Meanwhile, it is the fact that social and professional organizations have made significant contributions to the practice of protecting and assisting DV victims in Vietnam . In addition, the 2007 DVPC Law also lacks necessary policies (i.e., preferential policies and reward policies) to encourage the whole society to participate in DVPC, especially social and professional organizations.
2. Recommendations on amending and supplementing the 2007 DVPC Law
* Amend and supplement the definition of DV in consonance with the definition of gender-based violence by the United Nations.
* Amend the term "disabled people" in Clause 3, Article 3 of the 2007 DVPC Law to "persons with disabilities" to be consistent with the 2010 Law on Persons with Disabilities and relevant current legal documents.
* Supplement Clause 1, Article 2 of the 2007 DVPC Law with some DV acts as follows:
- Obstructing family members from exercising their rights to study and work;
- Forced pregnancy or abortion, forced sex selection, preventing contraception methods.
* Consider amending the measure of "contact forbidden upon decision of the Chairperson of the commune People’s Committee" stipulated in Article 20 of the DVPC Law 2007 to feasibly ensure support and protection for victims of DV.
* Consider supplementing policies to ensure the principle of prioritizing assistance and protection for the vulnerable who are DV victims, especially for persons with disabilities.
+ Forms, methods, means, and materials of activities including propagating and educating about DVPC need to ensure appropriateness for each type of persons with disabilities who are victims of DV (mainly classified by disability, e.g., persons with hearing and vision loss).
Picture: Legal aid establishments guide persons with disabilities through their legal rights.
+ There should be research on amending and supplementing (principal) regulations and requirements for DV victim support facilities. Specifically, in addition to meeting the general requirements regarding facilities and personnel, these establishments must also fulfill specific ones (e.g., accessibility for persons with disabilities and use/mobilization of sign language interpreters for victims of DV who have hearing loss.) to better suit vulnerable people who are DV victims including the elderly, children, and, especially, persons with disabilities as prescribed by law. Although it merely needs to set forth that this issue is of principle within the scope of the Law, stipulating that the National Assembly assigns the Government to guide specific policies in the corresponding article is essential to ensure effective support and protection of DV victims.
* Prescribe guidance policies on building service integration models for DV victims. Accordingly, instead of visiting many separate support facilities, DV victims could go to one facility only to seek help and support from various services (e.g., medical examination and treatment, psychological counseling, legal advice, and support with essential needs). This would be extremely convenient (in terms of procedures, time, etc.) for DV victims (especially for women and girls with disabilities) to access support and protection services. Currently, besides the 2007 DVPC Law, policies to support DV victims are also regulated in various legal documents such as the 2016 Law on Legal Aid; Decree No. 20/2021/ND-CP on social support policies, etc. Accordingly, many different agencies have responsibility for supporting and protecting DV victims in accordance with the law. Therefore, it is suggested that the (new) Draft DVPC Law is assigned to the Government to stipulate integration service models of supporting DV victims, or to the Prime Minister to prescribe a regulation on inter-agency coordination (e.g., sectors of health care, labor, invalids and social affairs, legal aid, and police) in order to place more responsibility on and facilitate coordination among different agencies and organizations in assisting DV victims.
* Consider creating a separate national hotline to support DV victims.
Picture: Other social organizations and individuals should be encouraged to participate in DVPC.
* Prescribe policies that encourage social organizations, professional organizations, and individuals to participate in DVPC. There is a need to encourage organizations and individuals to contribute to DVPC, especially non-public establishments providing support and advice for DV victims. Specifically, it is suggested to promulgate policies on financial support deducted from the state budget, policies on tax exemption and reduction; policies on support for land allocation, lease of premises for construction of support facilities, counseling for victims of DV; regulation on reward mechanism for organizations and individuals with outstanding achievements in DVPC; etc.
 According to WHO, one in four women worldwide has experienced sexual violence at least once in their life, perpetrated by their own husband or partner.
(Source: https://www. slideshare.net/nguyenphuonglien2407/bao-luc-tinh-duc)
According to the 2019 National Study on Violence Against Women conducted by the Ministry of Labor - Invalids and Social Affairs in collaboration with the General Statistics Office, nearly 02 in 03 women (62.9%) suffered at least one form of physical, sexual, emotional, and economic violence, or controlling behaviors by their husband or partner in their lifetime.
 Statistics in the 2019 National Study on Violence Against Women also shows that: a third (33.0%) of women with disabilities suffered physical violence perpetrated by their husband or partner compared with a quarter (25.3%) of those without disabilities.
 i.e., corporal beating, ill-treating, torturing, offending one’s human pride, honor, and dignity; forced sex, forced child marriage, forced marriage, appropriating, destroying private properties of other family members, etc. (Clause 1, Article 2 of the 2007 DVPC Law).
 i.e., propagating; mediating disputes among family members; counseling, suggesting, and criticizing in the communities (Articles 9, 11; 12-15; 16-17 of the 2007 DVPC Law)
 i.e., discovering and reporting DV acts; preventing and protecting; taking care of, counseling for; providing emergency assistance for essential services (Articles 18-24 of the 2007 DVPC Law)
 05 DV victim support facilities include: health stations; social protection and assisting centers; DV victim support centers; counselling centers for DVPC; and reliable establishments in the communities. (Article 26 of the 2007 DVPC Law)
 The 2007 DVPC Law uses the term “disabled people” as it was enacted before the 2010 Law on Persons with Disabilities.
 According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, 2003): “Gender-based violence is violence that targets individuals or groups of individuals on the basis of their gender. [...] It includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threat of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty.”
 See  hereof.
 As reflected by representatives of some Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and Women With Disabilities’ Clubs at the Seminar on the current situation of DVPC against persons with disabilities and proposing amendments to the 2007 DVPC Law on June 8, 2021 chaired by ACDC.
 Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (2020), Draft Policy Impact Assessment Report and Proposal for the development of the DVPC Law (amended), Hanoi, p.9.
 Clause 2, Article 20 of the Law on Legal Popularization and Education stipulates that the legal popularization and education for disabled persons is attached importance to implement by forms, methods, means, and documents being suitable with each type of persons with disabilities.
 e.g., Clause 3, Article 52 of the 2016 Law on Children stipulates that: With regard to children who are abused or might suffer violence, might be exploited or abandoned by their parents or caregivers and abused children whose parents or caregivers refuse to implement support and intervention plans, chairpersons of communal people’s committees, district agencies of labor - invalids and social affairs shall request competent courts to make decisions on restricting rights of children’s parents or caregivers or temporarily separate such children from their parents or caregivers and apply surrogate care methods.
 Articles 39 and 40 of the 2010 Law on Persons with Disabilities; QCVN 10:2014/ BXD: National Technical Standards on construction to ensure access by persons with disabilities; QCVN: 2021/BXD: National Technical Standards on condominiums, etc.
 According to the report by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in the period 2012 - 2017, there were 139,395 DV cases nationwide; The rate of sexual violence tends to increase: The proportion of women experiencing sexual violence by their husbands in their lifetime in 2019 (13%) is higher than that in 2010 (10%), especially among young women aged from 18 to 24 years (13.9% in 2019 compared to 5.3% in 2010);
 According to the 2019 National Study on Violence Against Women, half of the women who had experienced DV told no one about it, and 90.4% of women experiencing DV did not seek any help. Only 9.6% women sought help from formal services or authorities, and only 4.8% from the police.
 Amidst the COVID-19 social distancing protocols, the number of calls from women suffering DV to the hotline of the Vietnam Women's Union has increased by 50%.
 e.g., social organizations like the majority of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities are quite actively implementing DVPC measures to protect victims who are members of their Organization. In the online discussion on June 8, 2021, representatives of Women With Disabilities’ Clubs in Da Nang said that they had done various practical activities in order to protect and support the DV victims who were women with disabilities such as listening to the voice of DV victims, encouraging them to share their stories; actively supporting female DV victims within the organizational capacity (psychological counseling, providing information, etc.) as well as informing and coordinating with individuals/competent agencies in DVPC when there were DV.