Sexual assaults plague Vietnam city’s swimming pools: report

Thanh Nien News

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Numerous cases of male homosexual harassment and even rape have been reported at pools in and around Ho Chi Minh City, according to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
The paper quoted Khanh, a security guard at Cong Hoa Swimming Pool in Tan Binh District, as saying there have been reports of gays harassing male swimmers, mostly young men, at many local pools.
A group of young boys reportedly informed Cong Hoa pool security that they were had been frequently approached by a man who touched them and talked them into having sex, he said, adding that the man only stopped after guards intervened.
Ho Vu Trong Ung, the manager of the Tan Binh District Swimming Pool, also said gay men linger in his pool's dressing rooms to peep at other men as they change.
These individuals tend to follow solitary male swimmers into dressing rooms and bathrooms to try to persuade them to have sex, he said.
Since security guards often patrol these rooms, they have been able to stop such harassment before arguments and fights break out between harassers and their victims, according to Ung.
Minh, who lives in Phu Nhuan District, told the newspaper that he used to frequent Tan Binh District’s swimming pools, but stopped after he was harassed and seduced by gay men on a number of occasions.
Staff at the swimming pool of Go Vap District Center for Culture said early this year a male customer found another man filming him bathing with a cell phone and informed the staff who asked the other man to delete the video.
Similar cases have also been reported in the city center.
Nguyen Anh Hoang, chairman of Lao Dong Swimming Pool in District 1, said these men often visit the pool's bathroom around noon to peep at other male customers. Many enter into open bathroom stalls to proposition other men for sex.
Hoang added that his staff watches the pool’s security closely, so they are able to intervene immediately and ask harassers to leave whenever they discover inappropriate behavior.
In the meantime, Dr. Truong Huu Khanh, chief of the infectious disease department at Children Hospital 1 told Tuoi Tre that his facility treated at least two male patients who contracted HIV after being raped last year.
One of the victims, a 15-year-old male student in Tan Binh District, said he contracted the virus while attending a swimming class at a local pool last October.
While changing after class on the first day, the boy claimed a “big” man around 30 years old rushed into the room, covered his mouth and raped him.
The same man assaulted him on two subsequent occasions in the ensuing days.
The boy did not dare tell anyone until he came down with fever and cough about five or six months later, and tested positive for HIV at the hospital.
In the second case, a 19-year-old student was hospitalized in August and found to have been infected with HIV after being raped at a swimming pool in District 12 five months before.
According to the student, the pool was quite empty at the time and he was assaulted by a man in his early thirties while he was changing.
Khanh worries that similar assaults have been perpetrated on other children who are too afraid to tell their families, and have not sought medical attention as a result, he said.
It is too late to treat them when they develop HIV symptoms, the doctor said.

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