Child prostitution starting to appear in Vietnam
HANOI - Child
prostitution is beginning to appear in
Vietnam, and underground foreign
paedophile rings are starting to tout
the communist-ruled country as the
next destination, an expert in the field
said on Friday.
Christine Beddoe, tourism
programme director for international
group End Child Prostitution,
Pornography and Trafficking
(ECPAT) Australia, said there was
credible evidence to suggest foreign
child sex tourists were active in
``There is really strong anecdotal
evidence coming from Hoi An where
it appears foreign females are
abusing underage boys,'' she said.
Hoi An is a charming old former
trading port situated near Danang in
Beddoe added that the northern
mountain resort of Sapa was also
being repeatedly mentioned from
different sources who remark on
child sex abuse mostly with young
girls from the Hmong ethnic minority.
Beddoe is running a 12-week
project to educate and alert
grassroots tourism workers in
Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand to
the dangers of child prostitution.
``It is very difficult for people (in
Vietnam) to talk about child sex
tourism existing in their own
communities,'' Beddoe said. ``They
say they know it happens in
neighbouring countries and that they
do not want that to happen in
The scheme aims to produce
education material and raise
awareness among staff working for
travel firms and hotels, and others
involved in end delivery of tourism
``There is recognition that if nothing
is done (child sex tourism) will
become a problem in Vietnam,''
Child prostitution in Thailand and
Cambodia, which is much more
widespread than in Vietnam, has
been documented, and foreign
paedophiles have been prosecuted.
Beddoe said Australian Federal
Police based in Bangkok were now
certain that known Australian
paedophiles had been travelling to
and operating in Vietnam.
Vietnam's illicit sex industry is
booming and prostitutes are widely
available throughout the country.
Nguyen Thi Hue, who heads
campaigns to eradicate social ills in
Vietnam, said recently the police had
files on some 185,000 prostitutes
nationwide, and that at one point last
year some 30 percent of all sex
workers in this country of 79 million
people were thought to be under the
age of 16.
Hanoi was determined to stamp out
the problem, Beddoe said.
``I have absolutely no doubt the
Vietnam Administration of Tourism
supports a wider national campaign
on the prevention of sex tourism
including child sex tourism,'' she said.
There are no reliable statistics on
child prostitution in Vietnam, but the
police say the number of sex crimes
in general marked annual increases in
Some 19 countries operate
extraterritorial laws that can be used
to convict people of child sex crimes
committed on foreign soil. Neither
Hanoi nor foreign courts have
prosecuted foreign nationals for child
sex crimes that occurred in Vietnam.
Reuters - June 10, 1999.