Hanoi has called a ‘prostitution-busting’ target necessary in response to critics of its recent letter that sets a ‘quota’ of penalizing 500 prostitutes in 2017.
The memo, penned by the Hanoi People’s Committee and addressing its police force and other social authorities, sets out a goal of bringing 200 cases of prostitution and 500 prostitutes to justice during 2017.
Shortly after the letter was reported in local media on Monday, many voiced their concern over its’ administrative direction, deeming it counterproductive and artificial.
Nguyen Xuan Lap, head of the Social Evils Prevention Department under the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, said he found the target “laughable” when asked to comment on the issue on Tuesday.
According to Hoang Thanh Thai, deputy director of Hanoi’s Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, the target is in line with reports by an interdepartmental inspection delegation set up by the city’s administration.
The number of prostitution rings busted in the Vietnamese capital in 2016 as reported by its districts was collected and analyzed in reaching a ‘quota’ for 2017, Thai explained.
Meanwhile, Phung Quang Thuc, head of Hanoi’s Social Evils Prevention Bureau, said the number of prostitutes it looked to penalize in 2017 correlates directly to the number of prostitution rings it also looked to shut down.
“For every prostitution ring busted, there should be around two or three prostitutes involved or even more, so 200 cases of prostitution should yield around 500 prostitutes for punishment,” Thuc explained.
Thuc added that this was not the first year Hanoi had created such a goal.
“The purpose of the target is to motivate local authorities to intensify their crackdown on the matter and purge the city of the social evil,” Thuc said.
“Change is slow if there isn’t a target to meet.”
Responding to questions about why those who pay for prostitutes are excluded, Thuc said it was not possible to set a quota of busted ‘customers’ since in many cases the customer is exempt from punishment according to the current laws of Vietnam.