~ Le ViÍt Nam, aujourd'hui. ~
The Vietnam News

[Year 1997]
[Year 1998]
[Year 1999]
[Year 2000]
[Year 2001]

State employees fuel illicit sex in Vietnam

HANOI - Booming prostitution in communist-ruled Vietnam is being fueled by corrupt state cadres who now comprise the majority of customers, official media reported on Monday.

Anti-social evils chief Nguyen Thi Hue, in an interview published in the weekly Vietnam Investment Review, said campaigns to eradicate illicit sex services had failed as up to 70 or 80 percent of customers in 'bia om', or cuddle beer joints and karaoke parlours were state employees.
Prostitution has boomed in Vietnam as the country introduced reforms to allow the creation of a market-style economy. Sex is available in many bars, restaurants, massage parlours, hotels, karaoke spots and on the street.
``The situation is now serious,'' Hue was quoted as saying. ``It has been well organised and developed in a sophisticated manner throughout the country, partly to service high-ranking state employees and officials.''
``I can say that those who come to 'bia om' are corrupt people because they have to steal state money to pay for their dirty and expensive entertainment activities,'' added Hue, whose department comes under the Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs Ministry.

Vietnam launched a high profile campaign against the social evils of prostitution, drugs, gambling and corruption in early 1996. But heavy rhetoric, periodic raids and television and poster campaigns appear to have had little impact.
Hue said the Police (Interior) Ministry 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.

She added that with so many state officials involved in prostitution it was impossible to tackle the problem and called for tougher penalties for prostitutes, pimps and customers.
``If we close down hundreds of bars and karaoke spots and put the remainder under control, tighten management over state employees and enforce tougher punishment against sex-related activities, 80 percent of the problem will be solved,'' Hue said.

Official media reported recently that Hanoi city authorities were considering publishing names and addresses of anyone caught red-handed with prostitutes.

Reuters - May 31, 1999.