Hanoi publicizes sex workers’ hangouts

By Vo Hai   November 28, 2018 | 05:10 pm PT
Hanoians were unimpressed as officials blacklisted 10 places "with signs of prostitution services" on Tuesday.

Some members of the public commented that they would care more about the publication of government officials' assets.

Others said officials can list all the streets they want, they were not going to stop the world's oldest business.

While commercial sex services are still illegal and considered a social evil, a national debate on reforming this policy has thus far been inconclusive.

However, the fact that the National Assembly actually debated legalizing prostitution signaled a significant shift in perspective.

The locations publicized by Hanoi authorities include several streets, a park and a bus station in the districts of Hoan Kiem, Hai Ba Trung, Hoang Mai, Bac Tu Liem and Ba Dinh.

Sex workers usually stand around in the area waiting for customers or drive around on motorbikes looking for them, said Tran Quang Thuc, head of Hanoi's Social Vice Prevention Office.

He also named 10 other places suspected of hosting the service in Hoang Mai, Ha Dong and Thanh Tri Districts.

Sex workers and potential customers on Lieu Giai Street, Hanoi, one night in 2014. Photo by VnExpress/File

Suspected sex workers and potential customers on Lieu Giai Street, Hanoi, a night in 2014. Photo by VnExpress/File

Hanoi launched a software to track down sex workers in 2015, when it estimated that more than 2,000 people in the city were engaging in commercial sex work.

So far, the capital city said it has only got information on 472 people, all of them female. 202 are from Hanoi and the rest from other places in Vietnam. One of them is under 18.

Thuc said software could only get access to information of the 472 because they had committed administrative violations and were handled by local authorities.

The software operates on the basis of updating and archiving information related to sex workers that have been detected by the authorities. From then on, the authorities will keep track of the number of times they get caught providing their services, as well as their area of operations, to take measures to approach them and help them find other jobs.

Yet his agency has run into difficulties when managing sex workers with the software, Thuc said.

According to Vietnam’s law on prostitution, sex workers will be given a warning and fined VND100,000-300,000 ($4.32-13), while pimps and sex ring organizers can face jail terms.

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