SCDI Center for Community Development Initiatives




People living with HIV/AIDS

Social integration for sex workers

Sept. 21, 2018

Still wearing low-raise jeans, tight shirts, sharp eyebrows and dark lip stick, yet they could confidently walk in the Ho Chi Minh sub-department of social vices prevention to discuss and answer interview as sex workers.

New hope
People present at the workshop to assess the pilot model for sex workers who wish to change job in Ho Chi Minh city for the period of 2012 – 2015 were very lucky. Ngo Thi Mong Linh, head of Binh Minh Dem, vice head of Niem Tin Moi club said that “many sex workers wish to change job yet after assess we could only introduce 5 people to receive vocational training. They are the ones who really wish to have a different life”.

10 years ago L’s husband left her, leaving her with a 2-year-old daughter. Having a small child, sick, uneducated and jobless L. had no other way but to “sell herself”. She thought it would just be “for emergency” but then she couldn’t stop. 3 months ago, an outreach worker met and asked her to come to the meetings of Binh Minh Dem, a community-based organization.

“Not only learning about HIV prevention, I could also learn to do manicure” L. said. For the last 2 months, everyday she woke up early, catching a bus to Ho Chi Minh Women Culture house to attend vocational training classes. Hard working and able to do what she loves, L can now start to do manicure. “No one wants to be a toy for others forever. I will survive by doing manicure, remarry and have another child”.

The dream for social integration 
“The number of sex workers introduced by the city Women Union to receive vocational training most have graduated with very good results. Now all they need is to find a place that will hire them” said Lam Thi Ngoc Hoa, head of propaganda department, city women union.

Joining the program, each sex worker receive 2 million vnd, including the tools needed for 4 months. However, many people think that the current support cannot be sustainable. According to a sex worker, even though she has joined the program, she still need to sell sex because “the support money is not enough for me to cover for children, my mental disable sister, renting and other expenses… I wish I could have more support and a bicycle for easier transportation”.

Deputy director of Ho Chi Minh city DSVP, Nguyen Thi Hong Phuong said “in the coming time, there is a plan to increase the support amount. As long as the sex workers are determined to have a different life, we are very eager to assist them!”.

The target for the program is sex workers who wish to change job in Ho Chi Minh city. For the period of 2012-2015, participants are women who can be treated, provided with vocational training, supported family reunion, referred to community based organizations and social groups.


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