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Focus should be on reducing prostitution's harm to society

Update: August, 09/2014 - 09:53

Chung A, former vice chairman of the Viet Nam National Committee for Prevention and Control of AIDS, told newspaper Nong thon Ngay nay (Countryside Today) that prostitution needs to be under control.

Why do you think that Ha Noi's decision to introduce the measure to "out" people paying for sex will make prostitution a bigger issue for society?

At present, I'm conducting a survey on the sex trade in several different localities. Ultimately I want to use the findings to write a proposal with measures to reduce the negative impacts of prostitution on society, such as the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.

Through my work, I can say that prostitution is ubiquitous in Viet Nam, be it in the cities or in remote rural areas.

Karaoke houses, rest-houses and hair salons have become venues for prostitutes to operate. Others have become more brazen, approaching people in the streets and asking if they want some "happy time" with attractive girls.

What are your thoughts on the measures introduced by the Ha Noi Anti-Social Vices Department to publicise the names of people paying for sex or force them to do community service activities, such as street sweeping?

Ha Noi and other cities have previously introduced strict measures to reduce the number of prostitutes, including sending them to rehabilitation centres to educate them and equip them with job skills so that they can become conscientious citizens after they're released.

But, we have realised that such measures don't work. When we have a problem, we should attempt to deal with it within itself. Trying to solve it by changing too many things will only create new problems. Now we want to list the names, ages and addresses of all the men caught in the act, so to speak, but I don't think it will work.

Men wanting to have sex outside their marriages still do it, but in a sneaky way. But more seriously, is that they are having unsafe sex and heightening the risk of spreading harmful diseases.

So far fines have failed to deter illegal prostitution. In your view, how can we solve this problem?

Paying for sex should not be considered as a decadent act as some people often think about it. When men live far away from their wives, paying for safe sex could be a way out for them. Or is the case for some single women, responding to nature's call - it is not a crime.

Looking at the issue from a human perspective, prostitution has helped to solve a sensitive social need. However, if we let prostitution take place in an uncontrolled environment, it will have serious consequences, including the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. We need to think about controlling prostitution in a rational way.

What are your suggestions to solve the problem?

Prostitution has become a very difficult and complicated issue to find an answer or control it.

In my opinion, we should tighten the granting of licenses to "sensitive" businesses, like hotels, restaurants, massage parlours and others. They should be located far away from residential areas and schools to help authorities to monitor their business and even intervene when necessary.

For the immediate future, if we cannot "eliminate" prostitution, we should come up with measures to reduce its negative impact on society. — VNS

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