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Vietnam lawmaker pushes for red-light districts to join locals casino gambling trial

Thursday, 14 September 2017 06:25
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Vietnam should consider allowing regulated prostitution in the two special economic zones where locals casino gaming will be trialed, according to a senior government official.

Phung Quoc Hien, the vice chairman of the legislative National Assembly, told a meeting of the Assembly’s Standing Committee earlier this week that the country should legalize red-light districts in Quang Ninh province and on Phu Quoc island, which were named earlier this year as the location of two casinos to be granted a three-year trial in which locals will be allowed to enter and gamble.

“Life has such realistic demands,” the VnExpress reported Mr Hien as stating in the parliamentary meeting.

“We’ve got to go with the flow and work out an appropriate management mechanism.”

The Vietnamese government published a decree in January in which it revealed the introduction of the trial three-year period, with Van Don Special Economic Zone in Quang Ninh in Vietnam’s north and Van Phong on the resort island of Phu Quoc in the south the beneficiaries. The trial, yet to be given an official start date, will see locals aged 21 and above and with a monthly income of at least VND10 million allowed to gamble.

Vietnam has also relaxed its laws on prostitution in recent years, including the abolishment of compulsory rehabilitation for sex workers in 2013. However, previous attempts to implement red-light districts have fallen short due to moral opposition.

Khuat Thi Hai Oanh, founder of the Hanoi-based Center for Supporting Community Development Initiatives which supports marginalized groups, told the VnExpress that, “Vietnam is still short of the highest political will to legalize prostitution – perhaps because such a move implies too many political risks which would dwarf any possible gains for the authorities.

“But to be fair, Vietnam’s relevant policies on prostitution have made some significant headway. There are reasons and indicators to hope for an even better change in the future.”

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