HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam always gives priority to promoting gender equality, narrowing the gender gap and creating equal opportunities for women and men to participate in and benefit from all aspects of social life, contributing to the sustainable development of the country, said Lê Thị Thu Hằng, spokesperson of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
She made the statement on Thursday at a regular press briefing, in response to a reporter’s question over a recent report conducted by a group of UN experts which stated that a number of Vietnamese women and girls suffered from violence and harassment from their employers, after being recruited to Saudi Arabia for work.
Hằng said the MOFA has instructed Vietnamese representative missions abroad to keep in close contact with local authorities and companies in charge of managing and employing Vietnamese labour. They also encourage the local Vietnamese community to help facilitate favourable conditions for Vietnamese citizens working and residing in other countries.
“Our representative missions always stand ready to implement citizen protection measures and other measures to ensure the lawful rights and interests of Vietnamese citizens, particularly female labourers and girls in necessary cases,” she said.
“Over the past years, the MOFA and the Vietnamese Embassy in Saudi Arabia have received certain comments on the situation of Vietnamese labourers in this country.
“Immediately upon receiving such information and the instruction of the MOFA, the Vietnamese Embassy in Saudi Arabia has got in touch with local authorities, checked the information and requested investigations and strict punishments for incidents in line with the law.”
The embassy and Vietnamese labour management boards in Saudi Arabia have also been working with companies in charge of deploying labour to seek suitable solutions to address conflicts with employees and protect the safety and rights of Vietnamese citizens abroad, she said.
She further asserted that Việt Nam had enacted measures to protect female workers, prevent violence and harassment at work and stop the use of child labour through the issuance and adoption of relevant laws and policies such as the 2012 Labour Code, 2016 Law on Children.
Việt Nam has become party to 25 conventions of the International Labour Organisation including seven out of eight fundamental conventions that encompass prevention of discrimination, child labour and forced labour. Việt Nam is the first country in Asia and the second in the world to ratify the UN Convention on the rights of the child, she said.
In the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MOFA and the Vietnamese Embassy in Saudi Arabia have been making every effort to overcome challenges and co-operate with local authorities and airlines to run repatriation flights; nearly 800 Vietnamese citizens have so far been returned home.
Vietnamese authorities will continue to work closely with foreign counterparts to organise more repatriation flights, in line with citizens’ aspirations and take into account the evolution of the pandemic globally, as well as domestic quarantine capacity, she said.
Responding to an inquiry over recent media reports of Vietnamese workers at a Chinese-run factory in Serbia being held against their will, Hằng said the Vietnamese Embassy in Serbia had received the relevant information from the Serbian media and is making efforts to verify the information. They will contact the Vietnamese workers and their employers, as well as the relevant local authorities.
According to the initial information of the embassy, there has not been any report of violence or harassment.
The MOFA has instructed the embassy to continue to monitor the situation, update the information and take the necessary measures to validate the information and protect the rights and interests of Vietnamese citizens and labourers as well as ensure their safety, she said. — VNS