Empowering Vulnerable Women in Northern Vietnam



Yen Bai Province is situated in Northern Vietnam, identified as one of Vietnam’s hot spots for human trafficking. Since 2011, 71 cases of women and child trafficking have been reported to Yen Bai provincial authorities. [1]

With the help of Hagar’s key partner ‘Yen Bai Women’s Union’, a community-based Satellite Care Centre was launched in the heart of Yen Bai province in January 2016. This centre aims to provide prevention, protection and recovery services to women vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation. Through this satellite care center, Hagar has been providing recovery services to 16 female victims of domestic violence and human trafficking in Yen Bai. Hagar delivers awareness-raising workshops on the prevention of abuse, and exploring sustainable livelihood options for these women to respond to their financial burdens. Staff regularly travel out to communes to visit women, hear their stories and provide counseling, especially on how to deal with violent husbands.

Hagar met Hoai at an outreach activity at Lam Thuong commune. She is 43 years old, with three children; ages 5, 16 and 18 years old. Her husband, an unemployed alcoholic, has been abusive for as long as she can remember. He would be violent towards Hoai and their children if he didn’t have money for drinking, and would at times use their children as hostages to force Hoai to give him money. She tried to raise pigs and chickens at home to increase their family income. One day, while Hoai was working on a seasonal job far from home, her husband sold their chickens and pigs and used the money to have a feast with his friends. Six years ago, Hoai took out a loan of 10 million dong (USD 447) to invest in a breeding buffalo. But harsh winter conditions and disease caused it to die. Hoai couldn’t pay off the debt and struggled every month to pay off the interest. Hagar staff provided Hoai with counseling on how to deal with her husband. They also supported her financially in paying off the debt, sending the oldest child to vocational training and the younger children to school. Hagar follows up with Hoai over the phone on a regular basis and advises her on how to move forward in life.

Over the course of a few months since this new satellite centre was established, Hagar is witnessing positive changes in the community. One women showed Hagar’s flyer to her husband, informing him of a safe place where she can go with her children, if he continues to beat them. Another woman is daring to speak up and talk back to her husband saying that he doesn’t have the right to beat her. She even mentioned if he beat her, she would report it to the authorities.

Through discussions and awareness raising projects in the communities, we see women becoming empowered to make informed decisions and voice out their rights. They are assured of the support from Hagar and the Women’s Union.  Over time, Hagar hopes to see Yen Bai as a province with reduced trafficking and abuse among women.

[1] Asian Development Bank http://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/project-document/61582/41433-013-vie-gapab.pdf