Who is being trafficked in Vietnam?
Human trafficking affects women, men and children in Vietnam. Trafficked persons experience various difficulties ranging from physical and mental health issues, to economic and social reintegration issues.
There are various vulnerability factors to human trafficking and usually no single factor brings about the vulnerability of a person. Women and girls are considered more vulnerable to trafficking than men due to unequal gender relations and social and economic power , but it is important to recognize the agency both women and men exert in the migration process and the special needs of children in making that decision.
There is an increasing demand for virgins and children in prostitution , due to such factors as the threat of HIV/AIDS.
Vietnam is also increasingly a destination for child sex tourism with perpetrators coming from various countries.
Trafficking in newborn babies, foetuses, viscera and counterfeit adoption documents for the trade of children has also been identified.
Main Routes for Trafficking in Vietnam
Vietnam is primarily a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor, but also marriages. The main destination countries are China and Cambodia, but there are other destination countries within and GMS as well. Vietnam is also a recipient country for trafficked persons from Cambodia and serves as a transit country for Chinese children to Cambodia . In addition, internal trafficking of women and children has become apparent, mainly from rural areas to urban areas.
From Vietnam to China
Women, children and newborn babies are trafficked for marriage, labor exploitation, sex work and adoption. Wives from Vietnam are in demand, due to both demographic and economic factors, such as China’s “female deficit” and bride prices. Social pressure for marriage and to have children are risk factors for rural women. The use of violence, abduction and anesthetic seems on the rise by increasingly organized networks. The majority of the trafficked women and children come from Vietnam’s northern provinces through unofficial paths or border gates in Lang Son, Quang Ninh and Lao Cai, but also Cao Bang, Ha Giang and Lai Chau. Across the border, Bang Tuong, Dong Hung, Quang Xi, Nam Ninh, Ha Khau are receiving communities. But, destinations for trafficking now extend beyond the border provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi to inland provinces such as Henan, Hebei, Anhui, Jiangsu and Guangdong. According to official estimates, trafficked women into China account for 70% of the total number of trafficked women abroad, but the nature and numbers remain difficult to determine.
From Vietnam to Cambodia
Due to Vietnam’s recent history, large numbers of Vietnamese have migrated to Cambodia, whose children remain largely stateless and more vulnerable to exploitation. Vietnamese are often perceived as more diligent and beautiful by Cambodian society, fuelling the demand for Vietnamese migrants and, more specifically Vietnamese prostitutes. Studies indicate that 15–32% of sex workers in Cambodia are of Vietnamese origin. Individuals enter prostitution either voluntarily or by force, however, debt bondage is particularly prominent among Vietnamese sex workers in Cambodia. Around 50% of the trafficked persons of Vietnamese origin identified in Cambodia come from An Giang province. They come through three main routes: the border checkpoints at Toanlaop, Bavet, or Kansang in Cambodia; by plane to Phnom Penh; and, by river via three river checkpoints: Chery Thom and K’om Samnor in Kandal province, and Bak Dey in Takeo province in Cambodia.
From Vietnam to Other GMS Countries
In addition to trafficking to Cambodia and China, Lao PDR and Thailand are also reportedly destination and transit countries for trafficked Vietnamese from central and southern part of the country. Limited research and interventions to date provide some indications of trafficking into the commercial sex industry in Lao PDR mainly to serve the male Vietnamese workers there. Findings to date, however, indicate that: (1) the vast majority are more than 18 years old and entered voluntarily; and (2) exploitation is not widespread. The East-West Economic Corridor linking Vietnam (Lao Bao border gate), Lao PDR and Thailand, may also increase both migration and human trafficking vulnerability of Vietnamese migrants
From Vietnam to Beyond the GMS
Vietnamese women and children, especially from the southern provinces, are sold into the sex trade in other countries. From Cambodia and Thailand, the women and children are reportedly transferred to third countries such as Macao, Taiwan-China, Hong Kong-China, Malaysia and even to European countries . In addition, an increasing number of young Vietnamese women are trafficked for marriage purposes particularly to Taiwan and South Korea. The lure of marriage to a man in a comparatively rich country, coupled with a promised payment of anything up to $5,000 (or ten times the average annual wage), is often too much of a temptation for rural women and their families. Disguised under the form of arranged marriages, many women become domestic slaves rather than honored wives.
From Cambodia to Vietnam
Trafficking is mostly into begging in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and elsewhere in southern Vietnam, involving young or handicapped children, women with babies and elderly people. Cambodian children are also trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor to sell various articles on the street. Difficult climate and poverty in Svay Rieng province are key push factors. Family debt, lack of opportunities, the acceptance of child work, and the myth of “big money” are other vulnerability factors. Traffickers are often local women who recruit children of poor families in financial difficulties, and disabled children.
Internal trafficking is thought to be closely linked to the rural-urban migration flows. Prostitution is prevalent in Hanoi, HCMC, Quang Ninh, Hue, Da Nang, Khanh Hoa, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Hai Phong and Da Lat, which are said to be major destinations of internal trafficking. Trafficking in the form of labor exploitation also takes place in the domestic, agricultural and construction sectors, as well as in factories, sweatshops, karaoke bars etc. Poverty and indebtedness, lack of awareness/education, family breakdown and problems, individual nature, influence of friends are frequently cited vulnerability factors. Similarly, the vulnerability factors for children in prostitution , are largely listed and not analyzed (family poverty, indebtedness, social exclusion, low education, dysfunctional families and external influences, i.e., consumer values, peer pressure, and filial piety). Children in prostitution, enter either voluntarily or by force, sometimes under pressure from family members. Boys in prostitution appear to be rare, but vulnerabilities in relation to ethnicity are still debated.