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Vietnam Proposes Heavier Fines for Sexual Harassment. Some Think It's Not Enough.

The current fines for sexual offenses range from VND100,000 to VND300,000.

The Ministry of Public Security recently presented its proposal for a draft amendment of the government decree on social evils and public safety violations, in which behavior of sexual molestation and harassment towards others, as well as performing sexual acts in public, will be subjected to a VND3–5 million fine, Tuoi Tre reports.

A new fine between VND2–3 million will also be applied to lewd jokes or insults that cause harm to other’s dignity under the new decree. While the proposal seems like an improvement from the current fine system, which received heavy criticism recently after two notable harassment cases in Hanoi and Quang Nam, some think the new fines are still too low compared to the significance of sexual offenses. In both cases, the offenders were fined only VND200,000, inspiring outrage online.

Some lawyers, such as Truong Anh Tu and Diep Nang Binh, also pointed out that the ministry failed to give a definition of sexual harassment that's clear and specific enough to make these fines and future punishments enforceable. Tu told VnExpress that there isn't any legal document that provides a definition of what constitutes harassment, molestation or public sexual behavior.

A representative for the Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender - Family - Women and Adolescents (CSAGA) agreed with the criticism of the new fines and added that the lack of a clear definition is among the many issues contained in Vietnam’s current legal system regarding sexual harassment. Another loophole that the law needs to address, according to this representative, is that sexual harassment is only recognized as a violation in the labor law and is practically nonexistent in the criminal code.

[Photo by Ngoc Thang via Thanh Nien]