Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – A policy dialogue on “Harm reduction in prostitution – safety, health and human rights protection” was held in Hanoi on September 16.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Vietnam has around 161,000 businesses providing “sensitive” services with hundreds of thousands of employees.

Workers at possible prostitution centres often encounter with labour right violations such as working without labour contracts and salary, being forced to drink wine and beer, or even suffering from violence.

They also face a high risk of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, participants said, adding that good working conditions and application of health safety measures will help reduce the risk.

Addressing violations in health and safety should be included in the national programme to minimise harms caused by prostitution, the panels added.

Through the ratification of some ILO conventions, the Vietnamese Government has pledged to protect all workers so that they can work in a healthy, safe environment, ensuring no forced labour, child labour and discrimination.

These are the fundamental rights of workers in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals theme of “leaving no one behind”.

Since 2003, the guarantee of labour rights at service businesses has been recognised by the Vietnamese Government and it is also mentioned in the ordinance on prostitution prevention.

The national anti-prostitution programme in 2016-2020 also underlines the protection of labour rights at “sensitive” service businesses.

Participants discussed challenges in the field and the role of social organisations in protecting those working in these establishments.

They proposed the Party, State and Government soon promulgate a law on anti-prostitution towards punishing businesses that are unwilling to cooperate with competent agencies in reducing harms to and ensure human rights for their employees.

It is essential to have policies to support HIV/AIDS infected prostitutes to buy health insurance, they suggested.

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs need to review a pilot anti-prostitution model for nationwide implementation and continue studying policies providing loans for prostitutes to change jobs and integrate into the community.-VNA