Human Trafficking in Vietnam

This is a subject not often discussed in a country not often talked about. 


Because Vietnam is one of the last remaining Communist Nations in the world today. 

And that means Government control on everything. 

And Government censorship; no freedom of speech, freedom of association or freedom of movement for it's citizens. 

How do I know this? 

Because I was born in a Communist country with similar Dictatorship regimes.

Vietnam adhered to a deep, politically-constructed narrative called Dai Doan Ket (Great National Unity). This means that as an individual you don't count. 

You don't matter. All that matters is the interest of the Nation as a whole- the Government's wishes.

This has deep implications for its citizens, particularly for vulnerable minorities including women and children and those who choose to practice a faith of any kind. 

The 2016 Global Slavery Index estimates that 45.8 million people are subject to some form of modern slavery in the world today. The Index presents a ranking of 167 countries based on the proportion of the population that is estimated to be in modern slavery.

The Global Slavery Index estimates 139,300 people in Vietnam are living in modern slavery, equaling an estimate of 0.15% of the population.[1]

The US Stated Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2014[2] noted that Vietnam is a major source country for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor within the country and abroad. Vietnam is a source country for men and women who migrate abroad for work independently or through state-owned, private, or joint-stock labor export recruitment companies. Some are subsequently subjected to forced labor in construction, fishing, agriculture, mining, logging, manufacturing and other sectors.

Vietnamese authorities and NGOs have documented Vietnamese men, women and children subjected to forced labor within the country.

Vietnamese boys and girls, many of whom are from rural areas (some of whom are as young as 12-years-old) are subjected to sex trafficking. NGOs and government officials report traffickers increasingly target victims in remote areas of the country where trafficking awareness remains low among both citizens and officials.

Children are subjected to forced street hawking, forced begging or forced labor in restaurants in major urban centers of Vietnam. Some sources report the problem was less severe in 2013 than in years past.

Some Vietnamese children are victims of forced and bonded labor in factories run in urban family houses, particularly in the informal garment sector near Ho Chi Minh City, and in privately-run rural gold mines and brick factories. NGOs report that traffickers’ increasing use of the internet to lure victims has led to a rising number of middle-class and urban-dwelling Vietnamese becoming victims. 

Media sources reported the convictions of 20 individuals for their involvement in sex trafficking and forced labor in Tay Ninh province in December 2013. 

Lancet Glob Health[3] carried out face-to-face interviews with 1102 people entering 15 post-trafficking services in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, and found:

  • Participants worked in various sectors including sex work (329 [32%]), fishing (275 [27%]), and factories (136 [13%]).
  • 481 (48%) of 1015 experienced physical violence, sexual violence, or both, with 198 (35%) of 566 women and girls reporting sexual violence.
  • 478 (47%) of 1015 participants were threatened and 198 (20%) were locked in a room.
  • 685 (70%) of 985 who had data available worked 7 days per week and 296 (30%) of 989 worked at least 11 hours per day.
  • 222 (22%) of 983 had a serious injury at work.
  • 61·2% (95% CI 58·2-64·2) of participants reported symptom of depression, 42·8% (39·8-45·9) reported symptoms of anxiety, and 38·9% (36·0-42·0) reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • 5·2% (4·0-6·8) had attempted suicide in the past month.
  • Participants who experienced extremely excessive overtime at work, restricted freedom, bad living conditions, threats, or severe violence were more likely to report symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The US Stated Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2014[4] recommends the Government of Vietnam vigorously prosecute all forms of trafficking and convict and punish traffickers—especially in cases involving forced labor; actively monitor labor recruitment companies and enforce regulations against practices that contribute to trafficking, significantly increase training for officials on provisions of the anti-trafficking law, with a specific focus on identifying and investigating cases of forced labor and cases occurring wholly within Vietnam; adopt policies for the proactive identification and provision of assistance to victims among vulnerable groups, such as migrant workers, individuals in prostitution, and child laborers, and train relevant officials in the use of such procedures.

The Report also made recommendations that the Government of Vietnam improve data collection and data sharing at the national level on trafficking prosecutions, particularly labor-related prosecutions; support awareness-raising programs that reduce stigma and promote reintegration of trafficking returnees; and implement and support a visible anti-trafficking awareness campaign directed at those who solicit adults and children in the sex trade.

  1. Hill Tribe Stateless Vietnamese:

Around the world, some 12 million are stateless, people who do not have citizenship of any kind. 

In the mountainous regions spanning several Asian countries, including Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Laos and China, tribal minority groups known as the hill tribes have lived in villages for generations.

Country borders have changed and laws have developed to protect the people who live within each country, but many of the ethnic minority groups, like the hill tribes, have slipped through the cracks. Though they have lived in the same villages for generations, many of these individuals are undocumented – stateless, claimed by no nation.

According to UNESCO, lack of citizenship is "the major risk factor for [hill tribe] women and girls in Thailand to be trafficked or, otherwise, exploited."

Stateless persons often do not have access to basic requirements of education, health, housing or employment to simply subsist.

Stateless Hill Tribe persons are also more susceptible to persecution, trafficking, to being victims of crime, being taken advantage of economically and more vulnerable to exploitation.

It is recommended that Vietnamese Hill Tribe persons and their families be given citizenship and full recognition under the law to subsist, and the opportunity to flourish and contribute to their communities – without being targeted.

[1] Global Slavery Index:
[2] US Department of State OFFICE TO MONITOR AND COMBAT TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Country Profile – Vietnam 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report
[3] Lancet Glob Health, ‘Health of men, women, and children in post-trafficking services in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam: an observational cross-sectional study’; 3 March 2015:
[4] US Department of State OFFICE TO MONITOR AND COMBAT TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Country Profile – Vietnam 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report

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