Vietnam has more than 100,000 sex workers, many of whom have to work more than 12 hours a day, the Vietnamese chapter of the International Labor Organization (ILO) said, citing its statistics.
Of these sex workers, some 72,000 are prostitutes, according to the ILO Vietnam figures, released at a conference held by the social evils prevention department under Vietnam’s Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs.
The social affairs ministry admitted at the meeting that Vietnam has more than 160,000 establishments offering ‘sensitive services,’ with hundreds of thousands of laborers who are forced to have sex with their customers.
The ILO research was conducted via in-depth interviews with men, women and transgender people who do prostitution, as well as owners of ‘sensitive services’ and local authorities.
According to the study, women working at establishments offering prostitution have to ‘serve’ six to ten customers a day on average, with the number reaching up to 30 on peak days.
In the meantime, male prostitutes receive an average of three to ten customers a day.
Prostitutes working on the street have a smaller amount of customers a day, no more than five.
Occupational health and safety issues
Pham Thi Thanh Huyen, national coordinator of ILO in Vietnam, said big financial burden is the main motive behind prostitution.
“Many had tried other jobs before deciding that prostitution is their best option at the time,” she added.
Among 73 prostitutes interviewed, only one said she was cheated into do prostitution.
Many sex workers have their travel controlled over, and their personal papers held by their ‘employers,’ according to the study.
The study also found that while most sex workers voluntarily take part in prostitution activities, only a few of them are able to control occupational health and safety issues.
The ‘workplace’ of those workers is mainly neat and dirty brothels in poor conditions.
Prostitutes often feel unsafe, and worry about the risks they may have to face including being raided by police, thief and violence.
As a result of unguaranteed working condition, hours-long working, slogging, and violence, the job they are doing has left bad consequences on their health.
“Many prostitutes stress and have metal problems as they feel uncomfortable with working,” Huyen said.
“They also suffer stomachache for heavily drinking alcohol, either because they are forced or choose to do so on their own accord.”
Many sex workers also have tremor as a result of having too much sex, or injures due to gang rape, Huyen added.
“We need to make sure that employers follow regulations to ensure safety, health and rights of their labors,” Dr. Chang Lee Hee, director of ILO Vietnam said.
Dr. Chang said the local labor and health inspectors play a very important role in protecting sex workers.
“They need to be trained regarding the issue and bring labors’ safety, health and rights into their plans of inspection,” he explained.