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New law on the management of sex workers stirs public concern
  • By Tung Nguyen-Thao Tran | | October 12, 2012 07:37 AM

Sex workers will no longer be taken into education centres from July 1 next year when the Law on Handling Administrative Violations takes effect. The new regulations have however been criticised by both the public and management agencies.


New law on the management of sex workers stirs public concern 

The law is aimed to improve access to social services such as healthcare, vocational training and loans via pilot models for sex workers, with the intention of encouraging them to voluntary give up their profession.

When the law becomes valid, nearly 1,000 sex workers currently in education centres nationwide will be released.

Nguyen Van Minh, Deputy Director of the HCM City Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said, “The regulation will increase the number of prostitutes because the fine of VND300,000-VND1 million (USD14.28-47.6) proves too little compared to money they’re currently making.”

Many agencies in HCM City worry that the regulation will lead to an outbreak in new prostitution, causing more difficulties.

All former prostitutes who are currently being monitored by the HCM City Social Labour Education Centre will be released. However of the 79 of the sex workers held by the centre, up to 8% are infected with HIV/AIDS. Therefore, if they continue their job, there is a distinct possibility that HIV transmission rates will grow.

Nguyen Ngoc Thach, Head of the Social Evils Prevention Division of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, was concerned that after the new law was adopted, prostitution in HCM City would increase. When caught, sex workers are willing to pay a fine and then continue their work because they know that they will not be sent to social education and treatment centres as previously.

The HCM City Bureau for Social Evils Prevention has proposed that the government and agencies take tougher measures on prostitution besides educating and raising awareness among sex workers. Specifically, those who have a job and stable income but still work as prostitutes, for example the winners of beauty pageants, models, artists, must have their titles revoked and be banned from performing.

According to Mr. Minh, the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs is gathering prostitutes at the Anh Duong Centre to advise them to change their jobs, however, the funding for this policy is only enough to help 30 people.

He added that, “We plan to set up a centre to provide jobs for sex workers, and we’re working on a project on this for submission to the HCM City People’s Committee.”

There also seems to be no mention of fines or criminal proceedings against the users of sex workers, with the entire onus put on the women providing such services.

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