Women’s Unions at grassroots level play essential roles in protecting divorced women’s interests

Mrs. Nguyen Thi Quyt, 39, of Phuoc Trung Ward, Long Dien District, Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, recently posted a letter to the Women of Vietnam Newspaper in request for support

In 1997, her husband, Mr. Le Thanh, had to be hospitalized for 3 months with a serious illness. As farmers, Mrs. Quyt’s family was very poor, and she had to care for her 74-year mother-in-law in addition to two small children.She was forced to borrow money to buy medicine for her husband.


After his treatment, Mr. Thanh did not sympathize with his wife’s difficulties, blamed her for the family’s debt and planned to divorce her.He also beat Mrs. Quyt ruthlessly.The Commune and District police forced him to promise to end the domestic violence, but Mrs. Quyt continued to be maltreated by her husband.She agreed to a separation.The Long Dat district court ruled that the 4,000 sq. meters of land that Mrs. Quyt owned before her marriage must be shared with her husband.


After the divorce, Mrs. Quyt had to hawk lottery tickets to earn money to take care of her children. She used her land to raise cassava. o­n January 11th, 2005, Mr. Thanh and district officials forced her to transfer the land to her ex-husband in accordance with the court decision.Mr. Thanh insisted o­n the transfer, though Mrs. Quyt begged him to let her use the land to help raise their children.


This story was o­ne of several petitions to central offices to ask for help in preserving a wife’s rights after a divorce.Most wives had suffered financial losses because of their lack of legal knowledge. Rural women, especially women in mountainous and remote areas, have limited legal awareness of their rights and the process of litigation, so they always suffer in divorce proceedings. Some women are too stressed by the divorce that they pay less attention to the details of a legal decision.They do not experience the negative effects of the decision until after the deadline for appeals has passed.In addition, poor women often have no written papers to prove their legal ownership of property, so the court cannot support their claims.


Due to a lack of lawyers in rural areas and a lack of emphasis o­n the role of lawyers, divorced women cannot obtain legal advice from the proper professionals.The Women’s Union at the grassroots level can assist women in cases of divorce.Unions have not o­nly provided legal guidance for women, but also filed petitions to the relevant branches and offices o­n their behalf.The Union always sends a representative to the court in order to protect the rights of their members.


In several provinces, Women’s Unions accompany women through the process.The Ham Tan district Women’s Union in Binh Thuan province is o­ne such example, assisting o­ne member for the six-year duration of her case.In the end, through several petitions and complaints to mass media and relevant offices, the Women’s Union played an essential role in her victory.

by Hoang Tuan