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Women work hard to support families

Married Vietnamese have always had to act as breadwinners

Van Kieu ethnic Ho Thi Nau, three months pregnant, carrying her daughter on her back Van Kieu ethnic Ho Thi Nau, three months pregnant, carrying her daughter on her back
  • ucanews.com reporter, Hue city
  • Vietnam
  • March 8, 2011
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Despite being married, many women from ethnic minority groups in Vietnam’s Hue province find themselves working hard in fields to support not only their  children, but their husbands as well.

Early each morning, Ho Thi Nau, a Van Kieu woman, puts her four-year-old daughter on her back, gathers her farm tools and walks five kilometers to her field, where she clears grass and grows rice and corn.

On the way home, she collects wild vegetables and shellfish in a local river for dinner.

Nau, 26, who is also three months pregnant, said she is forced to do this because her husband stays at home and drinks all day.

“He regularly hits me out of jealousy and forces me to cover my face when I go out,” she said.

Married women traditionally have to work as breadwinners to support their children, said Sacred Heart of Jesus Father Joseph Duong Bao Tinh, who has works with local ethnic groups in Thua Thien’s  A Luoi district since 2007.

When a man wants to marry a woman he has to offer his bride’s family a buffalo and other agricultural products as betrothal gifts. By doing this men feel they have no duty to support the family, Father Tinh said.

Kan Thi Doi, a Ca Tua says she is six months pregnant and has to work as a bricklayer for a living.

“I am trying to save money to support my child after giving birth,” the 25-year-old said.

Nau said women who leave their husbands are expelled from their communities and the husbands are allowed to remarry. Women who commit adultery are also forced to compensate their husbands.

Father Tinh, 38, said local authorities ban priests and Religious from evangelizing ethnic people. “We have to disguise ourselves to work with these people,” he said.

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