Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers to share their thought about a proposal from the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs to publicise names of people who pay for sex and require them to do community service. Here are some of the responses:
Robert Fries, Texas, USA
In the United States, it is common for police to set up "sting" operations. A female police officer poses as a prostitute and stands in an area where prostitution is a problem.
When men approach her, she lets them make the first move so their intentions are clear. They then walk to a motel room and as soon as the man pays her money, police hidden in an adjoining room swoop in and arrest the man.
The customers face fines and sometimes a jail sentence. The whole sting is videotaped from beginning to end so there cannot be any disputes about what transpired. Some of incidents are televised and the whole nation sees everything, including the face of the man.
In most communities, local newspapers list the names, ages and addresses of all the men caught in the operation.
A woman who once worked for me was asked by her co-workers, "Was that your husband's name listed in the newspaper?" To her horror, it was. Her next step was to get tested for STDs and hire a divorce lawyer.
Some say, "The oldest profession in the world" is a victimless crime. But transmission of STD's can affect much more than two people. Prostitutes also face abuse in the streets by their pimps and many feel so bad about what they are doing that they feel they need to take drugs.
In the state of Nevada, there are areas where prostitution is legal and regulated. It is supposed to prove a safe place for women and they receive regular medical care.
Danny Rao, Indian, Bien Hoa City
When we have a problem, we should try to deal with it within itself. Trying to solve it but changing too many things will only create new problems. People who want to pay for sex are not doing anything wrong.
At least, they are not raping women. The women who sleep with other men are just trying to survive like everyone else. Maybe they have a choice, but that is what they have chosen and they are selling their bodies for money. May be it is the only choice they have. Maybe they are happy about it, maybe they aren't.
If we are going responsibly deal with this situation, I think addressing prostitutes in a more personal manner would really help. Approach them and educate them. Provide them with alternatives. Provide help by giving them jobs. Show concern and act accordingly.
We will never be able to stop prostitution as it has been going on for ages. If it is such a big concern to the society, we must help women forced into prostitution.
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
Regulating the world's oldest profession by exposing the customer's identity is short-sighted. It is better to licence and tax sex workers than punish the customer. Supply and demand rules, hypocrisy should not.
If it is an illegal activity like selling drugs is, then buyer and seller should be punished. On the other hand, as there are social benefits, maybe it is better to let sleeping dogs lie. Sex is a natural activity.
A recent court decision in Canada resulted in a new law, yet to take effect. Previously, prostitution was not illegal, but communication in public for the purpose of performing it was. Confused?
No society has yet come up with a best practice-working model. It is when coercion, human trafficking and under-age workers are involved that there is clear-cut social evil. I doubt there will ever be a training centre and certification process.
Nor will there ever be a decrease in demand. Love, lust and pleasure are intertwined. As a single man, should I be embarrassed if I get caught, or would it be a perverse bragging right?
I feel I am a victim here. I blame the taxi driver, the local men and the girls themselves for constantly asking and offering. What is a guy to do? Lie, sweet talk and chase a short-time girlfriend or just go for a massage? Let me sleep on it.
Brett Palser, Australian, HCM City
I am from Australia and spent a considerable time in New Zealand. In both of these countries, prostitution is not illegal, although in some states of Australia, brothels are illegal.
Perhaps authorised agencies should look at making it legal and regulating it so they can earn some tax from it.
Ha Minh, Vietnamese, Da Nang
I really welcome the proposal. People, especially those who are married, should be named and shamed if they pay for sex. It is a useful tool to deter married men who still want to hire prostitutes.
I think the media should publish photos of prostitutes and their customers when reporting cases. It would be perfect punishment.
The situation would be under control if authorised agencies approved the proposal. — VNS