New law only complicates issues around sex workers
  • | | August 06, 2013 11:05 AM
 >>  New law on the management of sex workers stirs public concern

Many localities in Vietnam are facing more difficulties in the punishment of prostitutes since sex workers are no longer taken into education centres after arrest, as was the case before newly-approved regulations.


Despite big efforts, local authorities have still failed to strike at the root of the prostitution

According to the Law on Handling Administrative Violations, which will take  effect on July 1 this year, sex workers will be fined, instead of being sent to education centres after their arrests. These regulations are designed to improve access for sex workers to social services such as healthcare, vocational training and loans via pilot models, with the intention of encouraging the workers to voluntarily give up their profession. However, it poses a headache for management agencies.

A police official from Hanoi’s Dong Da District was cited by Giao Thong Van Tai as saying that, “Prostitution is not yet considered legal in Vietnam, so it should have stricter sanctions. However, under the new regulations, sex workers are only fined, rather than being sent to education centres, which will help create favourable conditions for a prostitution boom. Some sex workers will be able to resume operations immediately after paying their fines.”

Le Van Quy, Deputy Head of the HCM City Social Evils Prevention Department, said prostitution in this locality has become more complicated and difficult to control after the new Law on Handling Administrative Violations came into effect. 

When caught red-handed for the first time, sex workers are only fined VND300,000 (USD14.3) and VND5 million (USD238) for any repeat offences. These fines are not big enough to have any deterrent effect , he explained.

The new law has raised public concern about the possibility of more prostitution in many localities, particularly after July 1 when nearly 1,000 sex workers at various localities will be discharged from education centres for community integration with some of them already infected with HIV.

Prostitution activity may become more complicated

The scenario in which prostitutes stand on local street-corners to ply their trade is still popular and hasn't changed since the new law came into effect. Despite big efforts, local authorities have still failed to strike at the root of the problem.

Recently, Hanoi police have investigated local bars and karaoke clubs as well as entertainment areas, arresting more than 200 alleged prostitutes who are mostly karaoke staff members.

Currently, Bach Dang Ward in Hai Ba Trung District is alleged to have more than 30 sex workers with the oldest aged around 60 and the youngest around 13. Some of them are drug addicts and HIV/AIDS carriers from others localities, and there are even some who are pregnant.

The 1-km road section from Pham Van Dong to Co Nhue and Xuan Dinh communes has dozens of sex worker hot spots. The prostitutes stand in front of the bars out on the street to invite customers out on date.

Many other areas in Hanoi also have many sex workers, e.g. Nguyen Trai and Giai Phong streets and even the outlying communes of Hoa Thach in Quoc Oai Distrct and Tay Mo in Tu Liem District suffer the same problem.

Not only Hanoi but also other localities are in the same boat. At night, streets in HCM City such as Nguyen Binh Khiem, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Dien Bien Phu and Xo Viet Nghe Tinh, often see skimpily dressed girls driving scooters to solicit customers.

Meanwhile, Khanh Hoa Province has also witnessed an increase in the number of prostitution services found at hairdressers and karaoke clubs.

According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, besides Hanoi and HCM City, Do Son Town in Haiphong City and Quat Lam area in Nam Dinh Province are also hot spots for sex workers.

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