Jun 14, 2012

Vietnam - Prostitution should be legalized, police officer

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VietNamNet Bridge – Colonel Ho Sy Tien, acting head of the Investigative Police Agency on Social Order, Ministry of Public Security, said that it will be easier to control prostitution if it is recognized as a job, ruled by special regulations.

Several high-end prostitution rings that have recently been busted in HCM City City have raised a public debate: Should names of the prostitutes’ customers be made public to curb prostitution?

It is a reality that women who are arrested for prostitution have their names and hometown published, while the identification of their customers remains unknown.

Below are the opinion of some senior police officers on Tuoi Tre (Youth) and Giao Duc Vietnam (Vietnam Education) newspapers.

Le Duc Hien, Vice Head of the Department of Social Evil Prevention: Names and images of prostitutes and their clients will not be publicly announced in line with a decree under the national anti-prostitution program. However, anyone found offering prostitution services will be convicted of a criminal offense under existing Vietnamese laws.

In addition to the administrative fines, sex workers will be warned and educated by local authorities. If clients are civil servants or members of Vietnam Communist Party or armed forces, their names will be announced to their leaders, who are likely to reprimand them or punish them later.

Have any civil servants been punished by the decree?

Le Duc Hien: The practical implementation of the regulations in Vietnam has proved ineffective so far. Hence, just a few civil servants have had their names revealed to their bosses.

In my opinion, if publishing the names of prostitutes’ clients can help curb prostitution, we should apply a pilot model

Colonel Ho Sy Tien, acting head of the Investigative Police Agency on Social Order: Under the law, prostitution pimps will be punished by criminal law while prostitutes and prostitute’s customers will be punished by administrative fines, including pecuniary penalty, serving a warning, prostitutes being sent to education centers, information about whore-masters being sent to the local authorities where they reside… All of these measures aim to prevent prostitution.

In my point of view, prostitution is getting popular and public under various forms, which are very sophisticated. Disclosure of the names of prostitutes and their customers is effective to prevent this social evil.

Prostitution is the operation of “demand and supply,” so we have to treat both prostitutes and whore-masters fairly. If the names of prostitutes are made public, so should the names of the customers.

Some people said that prostitutes should be seen as victims of prostitution, Colonel Tien said:

Prostitute should be considered as victims if they are victims of human trafficking and then being forced to work as prostitutes at brothels. In this case, they cannot defend themselves and they have to work as prostitutes, otherwise they will be assaulted.

The girls who have jobs, who are famous and students cannot be called ‘victims’ because they voluntarily work as prostitutes. These people must not be considered as victims and must be strongly protested. Obviously, whore-masters must be condemned.

Do you think publishing names of both prostitutes and clients is a must?

Colonel Ho Sy Tien: Most of prostitutes have to do this job because of economic difficulties, being jobless, etc. They have to hide their families to do this shameful thing. It will be difficult for these people to re-integrate into the community if their names are made public. In these cases, we have to carefully consider whether their names should be made public.

However, for famous people like models, actresses or singers, it is necessary to announce their names because they are celebrities and public symbols.

Making public the names of prostitutes depends on investigative agencies but in my opinion, for those who are not victims, their names must be made public.

Le Duc Hien: Some consequences should be accounted for in case of publishing their names. I think that is a big social problem that needs more discussions.

In some countries in which prostitution is legal, politicians can lose their prestige, or even their career, if they are found in “red light” areas. Prostitution services offered out of the areas will be strictly punished by the local government.

In Vietnam, the names of civil servants who are involved in prostitution are not publicly announced due to humanitarian reasons. That means the clients’ families would not necessarily be informed of their behaviors.

Is it time for Vietnam to legalize prostitution?

Le Duc Hien: Legalizing prostitution is a complicated matter that may badly affect the country’s political institutions, laws, customs and practices, and apparatus of government.

Now, if the Vietnamese government were to give permission for the establishment of ‘red light’ areas, how would we manage them? The term “red light” is synonymous with social evils, human trafficking, criminals, and drug addicts. The problem is, do we have a good enough governmental apparatuses to manage them?

We know very well that despite having effective legal implementation tools, in several advanced countries where prostitution is legal the government admits that the establishment of ‘red light’ areas has hurt, because they cannot control them. In summary, it’s impossible for Vietnam to legalize prostitution now.

Colonel Ho Sy Tien: We should realize that prostitution is a social phenomenon that must be solved in a long run. If controlling prostitution is the job of the police force only, we cannot thoroughly solve this social evil.

Actually, the National Assembly is discussing prostitution legalization. We should recognize it as a ‘job’ with public and specific rules to better manage it.

If prostitute is legalized, the state can collect taxes. Education and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases will be easier. We will take criminal penalty on illegal prostitutes and their customers, not administrative fines. In the current situation, administrative fines on prostitutes and their customers are ineffective to prevent this social evil. It will be very difficult to thoroughly deal with a social evil which is not seen as guilty.

Not naming whore-masters is unfair?

Many VietNamNet’s readers said that it is unjust if prostitutes are named while the names of their customers are hidden. However, many others said that the names of whore-masters should not be published to protect their families.

Reader Tam Nhu, from Bac Ninh, said: “Whore-masters are bad but they surely have a family. Their family is not deserved to suffer from their shameful act.”

A reader named hoalantuong agreed: “These people are deserved to be condemned but if their names are made public, whether their children can overcome this shock and can grow up normally?”

However, many readers expressed their support of naming prostitutes’ customers on the media. They said that it is unfair if the names of prostitutes are published while the names of whore-masters are hidden though both of them break the law.

“Is it fair if the names of whore-masters are hidden for ‘humanitarian reasons’ while the names of women who are prostitutes are made public? Why only men are protected while women are not protected? Is it male chauvinism?” reader Tran Le Xuan questioned.
“If whore-masters are protected, it means that we shield and tolerate their bad acts. If they relapse into vice, when will this social evil be controlled?” another reader voiced.

This reader said that whore-masters must be named and punished to be lessons for others.

Reader Vuong Thuc Nhi wrote: “It is absurd! Why the names of prostitutes’ customers are not published? Without whore-masters, do we have prostitute? Why we have to think of their families while they do not think about their families themselves?”

“We have to make public the names of these people to prevent them from repeating this bad act. If we destroy the demand, there will not have supply. To eliminate prostitution, we have to make public the names of all related people. If for humanitarian reasons, no name should be made public for equality,” reader Le Van Thanh wrote.

VietNamNet /GDVN/Tuoi Tre

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