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Hanoi Sets Controversial Quota Ordering Police to Penalize 500 Sex Workers in 2017

The Hanoi People’s Committee recently announced a controversial campaign to eradicate prostitution in the city, instituting a yearly quota which would require local authorities to bust 200 sex work-related cases and penalize 500 sex workers in the capital.

According to Tuoi Tre, Hanoi’s police force is tasked with conducting administrative inspections on 150 businesses located in areas where the authorities believe sex work is likely to occur. The municipal government is also assigning local police the responsibility of preventing a resurgence of prostitution in 20 known hotspots that were previously shut down between 2009 and 2016.

The quota numbers have raised eyebrows among the general public, some of whom have questioned the value of a quota for local police.

“I really don’t understand why we need to set a ‘quota’ to bust 500 prostitutes at all; do we wish to have no prostitutes or do we wish to have as many prostitutes as possible to meet the ‘target’?” one Tuoi Tre commenter said, according to the news outlet.

Phuoc, another commenter, asked in Vietnamese: “Why do we have a quota for punishment? And why are only sex workers penalized while there is no mention of sex clients?”

Meanwhile, an inter-departmental inspection team will work alongside Hanoi’s police force to ensure compliance with a prostitution prevention order at 50 businesses around the city, reports the news source.

The campaign also includes building and maintaining a prostitution prevention model in 54 localities, Tuoi Tre reports in a separate article. In an effort to dissuade at least some of the capital’s prostitutes from repeating their actions, municipal officials also plan to provide financial support to five former sex workers.

Even though sex work is illegal in Vietnam, the International Labor Organization estimates there are over 100,000 sex workers in the country. The government’s move to eliminate mandatory rehabilitation for sex workers in 2013 and instead fine local sex workers up to VND500,000 (US$22) has since ignited public debate over legalizing the sex industry. However, without effective policies to combat more serious issues associated with the sex industry, such as human trafficking, a legal framework for sex workers is a long way off.

[Photo via Moi Son]


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