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UNICEF Report Reveals Harsh Realities for Women, Children, Ethnic Minorities

Over 70% of Vietnamese under the age of 15 experience verbal or physical abuse, according to a new UNICEF report.

A total of 14,000 households in 700 areas across all 63 provinces and cities contributed to the survey administered by the General Statistics Office in coordination with the Programme of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The report, which was delivered on December 8, found that 70.8% of Vietnamese youths face either verbal or physical punishment at home.

Troublingly, the numbers were higher than the 68.4% recorded in 2014. Roughly 64% received verbal and other non-physical punishment, while 41% were struck or punished physically.

The survey, conducted between November 2020 and February 2021, was the largest of its kind of Vietnam's women and ethnic minorities to date, and UNICEF Representative in Vietnam Rana Flowers identified five main takeaways from the results:

- Ethnic minority women, especially from the Mong ethnic minority group, are particularly vulnerable to not reaching sustainability goals such as access to education or electricity.

- Internet access needs to be improved because, although more than 80% of people aged 15-49 have an internet connection, only just over 30% know how to use a computer.

- Too many students drop out of school as their educations progress.

- Verbal and physical abuse of students persists, which results in mental health issues.

- 50% of people in Vietnam are using and consuming substandard drinking water, with 41.1% exposing themselves to drinking water contaminated with E. coli.

The results are aimed at improving policies benefiting women and children in particular. “The survey results give us up to date information that factors in some of the early COVID-19 challenges that families have experienced, the burden that women bear and the risks to their lifelong development that children face, including those living in ethnic populations such as Mong or Khmer, those residing in remote and mountainous regions or those living with disabilities,” Flowers explained in the report.

Meanwhile, UNICEF has pledged more than US$1 million to the Human Safety Net for 2021-2024 to support children's development and care. It aims to increase awareness of common issues faced by children and promote programs to encourage healthy, safe home environments. 

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