At a recent conference in Ho Chi Minh City, civic leaders explained that the flagging global economy has forced more men into sex work, including students. “There is sophisticated development of male and gay prostitution, foreign sex workers and Vietnamese prostitutes going abroad in the form of sex tourism,” said Mr. Le Van Quy, Deputy Director of the City Bureau for Social Evil Prevention. “Five years ago, the [bureau] arrested and sent to treatment centers 22 male and gay prostitutes, but then we had to release them because the current law has no related provisions.
The threat isn’t so much immorality, but safety and public health: Because of the stigma attached to homosexuality, most don’t get tested for sexually transmitted infections, leading in a concurrent rise in HIV.
Vietnamnet Bridge reports on a “love market” that has emerged in Da Nang City, bringing with it an uptick in robberies and violent crime. The South Asian sex trade is also notorious for employing underage participants.
In previous years, sex workers could be sent to abusive “rehabilitation centers,” but a new measure levies fines instead. The problem is those penalties are too low compared to potential profits.
One delegate at last week’s conference suggested lifting the fines and sending sex workers for HIV testing and medical exams instead.