Human trafficking cases down but not out in Vietnam

Vietnam reported 60 human trafficking cases in the first half of 2020, with 90 victims, mainly women and children, sold to foreign countries.

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This marks a year-on-year drop of 31 percent in the number of cases and and 37 percent in the number of victims, according to a report by the Vietnam Women's Union released at a workshop Thursday.

It said over 70 percent of these victims were women and children from poverty-stricken border areas where people are poorly educated.

The report said traffickers typically tricked the victims into going to foreign countries to work as part-time workers with high bonuses and then subjected them to forced labor and/or prostitution. Some were sold as wives and some were trafficked to give birth in China or for harvesting their organs for sale.

Ha Thi Nga, chairwoman of the union, said at the workshop that the crime of human trafficking has become more complicated amid the Covid-19 pandemic, even though Vietnam has closed its borders and suspended foreign arrivals since late March to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Human trafficking is ranked as the third largest source of income for organized crime after arms and drugs trafficking, Nga noted.

"Traffickers mainly target women and children in rural and mountainous areas near the border where they live in poverty and get little access to education and social media," Nga said, adding that some of the traffickers are former human trafficking victims.

Australian Michael Brosowski, founder of Hanoi-based nonprofit organization Blue Dragon, told VnExpress that the impact of coronavirus has meant that the trafficking of people out of Vietnam has slowed down; or at least that it is much harder to detect.

"Because trafficking out of the country is harder, we're seeing more cases of exploitation within Vietnam," he said, adding that the government is doing a commendable job of combating the crime.

"There are some further areas of law reform that are needed to make the law clearer for police and the judiciary; and there's an ongoing need to train officials throughout Vietnam in implementing the law. But overall, especially given the difficulties imposed by Covid-19, the government's efforts remain strong and focused."

Vietnam is a human trafficking hotspot with the crime generating tens of billions of dollars annually, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

The country has recorded over 3,400 victims of human trafficking since 2013, over 90 percent of them women, children and people from ethnic minority communities.

Eighty percent of victims end up in China, which suffers from one of the worst gender imbalances due to its one-child policy and illegal abortion of female fetuses by parents who prefer sons, leading to increasing trafficking of Vietnamese women and baby girls to that country.

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