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VietNamNews

Prejudice hinders reintegration

Update: November, 01/2013 - 08:30

Former drug users practise on industrial textile machines at a rehabilitation centre in Ha Noi. Only 17 per cent of people from vulnerable groups such as former drug addicts, sex workers and HIV carriers are able to access loans to find work and rebuild their lives. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Tran

HA NOI (VNS) — Less than a fifth of people from vulnerable groups including former drug addicts, sex workers and people affected by HIV are able to access loans in order to rebuild their lives.

The demand for loans among these people is high, with nearly 86 per cent having expressed the need, but added they are often hampered by prejudice.

Also, they have to struggle to find work in the face of workplace discrimination.

The statistics come from a new survey conducted by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA). Seven provinces and cities throughout the country were canvassed, including Ha Noi, HCM City, Nghe An and Can Tho.

The survey received nearly 1,550 responses in July this year from former drug addicts, sex workers and people affected by HIV, including those with HIV or a spouse, parent or child of those with HIV.

Le Duc Hien, deputy director of the Department for the Prevention of Social Evils, said the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs will draft a decision for a policy to increase access to loans for people from these vulnerable communities and submit it to the Prime Minister for approval within the year.

Hien said helping people from vulnerable groups was very important as it would not only directly help these people but also help their families improve their lives and help to contribute to the common social order and community development.

"They must not be left alone," he emphasised.

Accessing vocational training and finding stable jobs was another major issue for the respondents, with nearly 58 per cent stating a desire to receive vocational training, but only over 14 per cent said they had been offered help in seeking training or finding jobs.

The MOLISA survey reveals that just over 7 per cent of the survey respondents are university graduates, while the rest had only graduated from high school or lower levels.

An anonymous respondent to the MOLISA survey said that having a history of being a drug addict in the past, he found himself a very unattractive candidate for companies offering work.

"Vocational training schools and companies give us many excuses for not accepting us," he said.

While nearly 70 per cent of respondents said they are working, only 18 per cent of them earned VND3-5 million (US$140-240) a month and 57 per cent earned only VND1-3 million ($47-140).

Because of poor health, lack of professional experience, limited educational background and their own sense of inferiority, respondents said they preferred doing seasonal jobs and freelancing (39 per cent) or decide to start a small businesses (56 per cent). Only 13 per cent said they wanted to work for a company as a full time employee.

According to a report by the Department for Prevention of Social Evils operating under MOLISA, social discrimination, limited educational background and sometimes poor health are reasons making these groups find it difficult in accessing finance to rebuild their lives.

The report also highlighted the Government only has a policy to offer loans towards poor households and there is no specific policy to offer loans towards these vulnerable groups.

While the risk of offering loans to the groups seems high, MOLISA survey revealed that in reality, over 79 per cent of those who successfully borrowed loans had also managed to repay the loans.

The Department for Prevention of Social Evils said support from both local and central Governments and from social organisations should be increased to help such vulnerable people.

The support should be made through a range of measures such as promoting empowering legal policies, increasing professional consultation, raising job placement activities, promoting media coverage to reduce social discrimination and promoting access to loans for vulnerable people.

The Department added that the Viet Nam Bank for Social Policies, which was responsible for offering financial support towards special groups of people, must work to create a more favourable and helpful environment at a local level for those from vulnerable groups. — VNS

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