More than nine years after stopping issue of fresh licenses for karaoke parlors and dancing clubs, Ho Chi Minh City is now planning to move existing ones out of residential areas or have them switch to other businesses in an effort to check prostitution.
The city with more than eight millions people has some 420 karaoke parlors and 11 dancing clubs opened before the 2005 suspension upon instructions from the central government.
Under to a new plan, the city authorities will encourage sports and cultural centers to open karaoke parlors, news website Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon (Saigon Times) reported.
But they will have to obtain permission from relevant agencies before being issued a license.
They will be closely monitored to prevent “social evils” including prostitution.
In Vietnam, karaoke and dancing clubs are considered “sensitive” businesses often used as a front for prostitution, which is illegal in the country.
The social affairs ministry in August called for stricter fines against pimps and patrons in a bid to stem a surge of prostitution that followed the abolition of compulsory rehabilitation centers for sex workers last year.
Meanwhile, drug addicts are still subject to compulsory rehab.
The number of sex workers in Vietnam -- criminals according to the government -- increased last year and prostitution became harder to control, according to the social affairs ministry
A report by the ministry said the number grew to nearly 33,000 in 2013, up more than 9 percent from the previous year.
But a report by newswire AFP in September quoted researchers as estimating that there are around 200,000 sex workers in Vietnam, full-time or occasional, of whom up to 40 percent are believed to be HIV-positive.
The civil society has been pressuring the government to legalize prostitution so that the industry could be regulated, triggering fierce debates from both sides of the camp.
The National Assembly, Vietnam’s legislature, is set to debate this issue at the biannual plenary session that opened this week in Hanoi.