by Gia Loc
HCM CITY — Regulations designed to prevent trafficking in women and children should be updated urgently to meet new needs, officials said at a meeting held in the city yesterday.
Strengthened legislation was also needed to tackle prostitution, which has developed using new modes, they said.
Nguyen Trong Dam, deputy minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said several difficulties undermined the fight against prostitution and human trafficking despite many activities implemented by authorities and relevant agencies.
The use of the internet and cell phones enabled prostitution to flourish because customers could easily contact sex workers working day jobs in massage parlours, hairdresser shops or cafes, he said.
Le Thi Ha, deputy head of the Social Evils Prevention Department, said that more than 29,000 commercial sex workers were found operating nationwide last year.
Most of them were concentrated in large urban and tourism areas including HCM City, she said.
Between 2004 and 2009, authorities uncovered 1,586 women and children trafficking cases that involved 4,008 victims.
Most victims of prostitution and trafficking were from the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta because of endemic poverty in the region and low education levels among women there, she said.
Moreover, HCM City was an important base for inter-provincial prostitution and trafficking rings, she added.
According to a report by the Social Evils Prevention Department, between 2004 and 2009, the city detained nearly 5,000 prostitutes and identified 59 spots where commercial sex workers concentrated.
Nguyen Ngoc Thach, head of the department, complained that legal documents and regulations to prevent human trafficking had not been updated to meet the current complicated situation.
He called for changes in awareness activities on prostitution and human trafficking to make them more effective, adding that such activities needed to be strengthened, especially in rural areas.
The Ministry of Education and Training should be responsible for improving public awareness about the need to prevent prostitution and human trafficking, given recent developments, speakers said.
Deputy Minister Dam asked local authorities and relevant agencies to take more care in helping victims of human trafficking integrate into society and creating jobs for them.
The current rate of female victims integrating into society was very low and efforts to help them settle not effective, he said.
Ha said that many localities had not even made a list of human trafficking victims in their area.
Vocational training currently provided to victims was not practical and could not help them earn a living, making it easy for them to return to prostitution.
Co-operation between provinces and cities in fighting prostitution and human trafficking was also poor, and needed to be improved considerably, speakers said. — VNS