Vietnam metro wants to group sex-service-prone businesses

TN News

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Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have proposed grouping barber shops, massage parlors and similar businesses into one area so as to better control against such businesses fronting for prostitution rings.

News website VnExpress on Monday said the city People's Committee has asked the government for a permit to move the "sensitive service" into a designated area.

It will be easier for the city to carry out any necessary healthcare support to sex workers and residents of the area, it said.

Le Van Quy, deputy head of the city's Department for Social Ills Prevention, told the news website "the city is not trying to establish a red-light district."

Quy said the plan only aims to protect the workers by requiring their employers to provide more proper contracts that can help the women not depend on tips from customers, get health insurance, and receive regular health checks, including HIV/AIDS screenings.

"We'd never accept prostitution as a legal occupation as it is an abuse of women's dignity and it shows severe gender discrimination," he said.

The services can be grouped together at Nha Be District or some remote part of Binh Thanh District "that are rather detached from the city," he said.

The city government said the prostitution situation in the area has gotten "complicated."

It said the operation does not simply stop at sex between the workers and the customers, but also acts of sexual arousal often provided at such centers, which also include cafés, karaoke parlors, dance clubs, and even traditional medicine clinics that offer acupuncture.

It asked the central government to issues regulations against the sexually arousing services.

Sex services in some occasions are being provided right in public places where workers and customers meet.

Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and Hoang Sa Streets in District 1, Tu Xuong, Nguyen Thong and Hai Ba Trung in District 3 are considered areas with a high concentration of prostitution and other sex services; as are Nguyen Chi Thanh, Chau Van Liem, Dao Duy Tu and Ngo Quyen Streets in Districts 5 and 10.

Vietnam is yet to draft laws regarding male prostitution, same-sex prostitution and services, and such activities involving foreigners, which are becoming more commonplace, the committee noted.

It also called for higher fines to be levied against those who produce and distribute pornography, as well as other activities that promote or provoke excessive sexuality.

Speaking of which, it asked the government to set up a code of ethics for artists who perform on stage.

Many artists have been fined for swearing skimpy clothing that sets a bad example for young people.

The city also asked to set up a social welfare center to provide counseling services to sex workers in order for them to reintegrate within law-abiding society.

A recent survey found the city has 30,000 "sensitive" facilities, which, disguised as legitimate businesses, provide prostitution services, up only about 800 in 2011.

Most of those, 19,705, are hotels and guesthouses.

Currently, there are approximately 3,500 female prostitutes, about 50 madams and 85 pimps operating in the city, according official figures at another meeting earlier this month.

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