High income keeps prostitutes in the game: report

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The high and stable income provided by sex work keeps many prostitutes in the profession, a recent report has concluded.

Female sex workers earn an average of VND10.6 million (US$509) a month, which is two million more than males, according to the report released by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs on Wednesday.

The report found five percent of female prostitutes had a monthly income of up to VND20 million ($960).

Vietnam's per capita income was $1,300 in 2011.

More than 94 percent of female sex workers said their clients were men while only 11.6 percent of male sex workers have female clients.

The report was based on a survey of 189 male and 199 female sex workers in Hanoi, Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh City, with more than half of them under 25. Most of the surveyed sex workers quit schooling in secondary grades or lower and have been working for between three and five years.

Asked about their plan for the next three years, nearly 35 percent of the surveyed sex workers said they would continue their job because of the high and stable income.

Only 23 percent said they had ever quit the job for a period of six months or longer. They said they had quit because they had either planned or managed to find a legal job, or they had obtained enough money to pay debts or open a legal business.

Le Duc Hien, deputy director of social affairs at the ministry's Social Evil Prevention Department, said many sex workers relapsed after quitting because their new jobs were unable to provide for their spending habits or family the way prostitution did.

About 12.5 percent said they returned because they were addicted to the job, added Hien, who is member of the research team.

The report found that stigma remained a barrier for prostitutes seeking to leave the profession and find new jobs or obtain loans. 

Citing a finding that half of the respondents were not aware of the relevant risks of their job, Nguyen Van Minh, director of the Social Evil Prevention Department, said there had been few actions to prevent and alleviate relevant damages facing sex workers.

"The government should have more policies to reduce such damages and offer more vocational training and loans for them to find another job," he said.

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