Vietnam police warn of sex tourism boom as child sex abuse on the rise

The number of child sexual abuse cases in Vietnam increased 6.3 percent in 2014 from a year earlier, Hanoi police revealed Friday.

A perpetrator is seen announcing the prostitution price of a male child at a coffee shop in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 12 in this file photo.

The number of child sexual abuse cases in Vietnam increased 6.3 percent in 2014 from a year earlier, police revealed Friday.

The number of such cases known to police has been on the rise over the last few years, Lieutenant Colonel Khong Ngoc Oanh, from the Ministry of Public Security, told a conference on child sexual abuse in Hanoi.

The event was held by the People’s Police Academy and Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, a Hanoi-based charitably funded non-governmental organization which aims at improving children’s life.

An estimated 1,500 children are victims of child abuse every year, of which 80 percent suffer sexual abuse, Oanh said, citing police’s statistics.

Last year the number of criminal cases related to child sexual abuse rose 6.3 percent compared to a year earlier, he added.

Most of the perpetrators of sexual abuse cases are children’s acquaintances, neighbors, relatives, or stepfathers.

Some of them keep in touch with children through mobile phones and Internet, while the victims lack experience on how to protect themselves from exploitation.

Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation has protected around 30 boys, most of them are street children abused by perpetrators who are fortune tellers or foreign doctors visiting Vietnam.

The laws on the prevention of prostitution and criminal laws consider prostitution as sexual intercourse between men and women while there’s no regulation to protect boys over 16 years old from sexual abuse.

The lieutenant colonel noted that the problem is the first phase of a sex tourism phenomenon in Vietnam. Although there are only few cases so far, sanctions and prevention measures should be considered to avoid a boom in sex tourism, as has been noticed in some neighboring countries.

However, it is hard to deal with the perpetrators as tourists might leave the country immediately after involving in a prostitution or child sexual abuse case, he added.

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