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Vietnam Frees Sex Workers From Rehab

Sex workers will no longer be forced into rehab—but drug addicts will remain in lockdown.

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Vietnamese workers at a "grooming salon."
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By Bryan Le

10/11/12

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About 900 sex workers will be free to return to their homes in July 2013 after having been forced into compulsory rehab under Vietnamese law. "This is a big change of view on how to deal with prostitution," says Le Duc Hien, deputy head of the government's department for social vices prevention. "However, it does not mean we officially recognize prostitution.” Compulsory rehab was initially intended to help crack down on prostitution in a country that is home to an estimated 30,000 sex workers. Back in July the books were changed so that those nabbed by authorities would no longer be funneled into drug rehabs, but instead slapped with a fine of 5 million dong ($240 USD). And now, the country is getting around to freeing the hundreds of individuals they had been keeping in lockdown. No word yet on whether these newly-liberated sex workers ever staged a kitchen knife-driven breakout to escape beatings and slave labor like their drug-addict counterparts—for whom compulsory rehab will remain standard.

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