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Cameras used to combat prostitution in Ho Chi Minh City 'red light districts'

Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 16:23 GMT+7

Security cameras installed along streets known as “red light districts” – the venues of sex sellers and buyers – in Ho Chi Minh City’s Go Vap District have helped eliminate prostitution there, local media reported.

>> An audio version of the story is available here After seeing these cameras installed on Phan Huy Ich and Tan Son Streets, which are known as “red light districts,” and near “dim-light cafés,” which offer dark spaces for prostitution, potential guests do not dare enter, news website VnExpress quoted Lieutenant Colonel Le Thanh Hung, chief of police of Go Vap’s Ward 12, as saying.

Hundreds of cameras have been installed in the ward for this purpose, police said. Police have also set up cameras in alleys where people often gather for gambling or cock-fighting to prevent such banned activities. Such devices also help detect and prevent thefts and other social evils in the ward, the official said. Lt. Col. Hung recounted past incidents that prompted police to use cameras as a tool to combat prostitution. Tan Son Street borders Ward 15 of Tan Binh District, so when police from Go Vap previously raided this "red light" area, sex workers would run away to Tan Binh, making it hard for them to eliminate prostitution, the official said. The police of Ward 12 then thought of setting up two cameras at each end of the street to record the actions of sex workers and their guests during the police raids. “One night, a woman ran from a 'red light' point that was raided by police and rushed toward Tan Binh, but she was stopped and detained by police officers,” the official said. The sex worker initially rejected police allegations that she was a prostitute, but after an officer showed her images recorded by the cameras, she could do nothing but admit that she sold sex for a living, Hung said. After giving her an administrative penalty, police set her free with the purpose that she would tell other sex workers about the presence of such cameras so that they would give up the trade, the official said. Indeed, over time, prostitution activities in the area have decreased clearly, he added. From only four cameras in August 2013, police have now installed and managed 230 such devices in 132 areas around rented houses, 19 alleys and many streets at a total cost of VND850 million (US$39,000), Lt. Col. Hung said. Police have mobilized wealthy families in the ward to contribute to the purchase of such cameras, he added.  Police and guards of residential areas in the ward have also been equipped with walkie-talkies to facilitate their communication in criminal prevention and detection.

In March 2015, the Ministry of Public Security commended the efficiency in security protection that this model of “using cameras to supervise residential areas” provided. Currently, this model is being applied in many other wards and communes in the city.

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