Population: 88.7 million (2012)
Unofficial: 93.4 million (2014 estimate)
Estimated rural population: 68.3%
GDP per capita: US$ 1,755 (2012)
Human Development Index (HDI): 0.617 (2012)
HDI Rank: 127 (2012)
Neighbouring Countries: Cambodia, China and Lao PDR
Ms. Ha Thi Van Khanh
National Project Coordinator
Direct line: + 84 4 3850 0153
UN-ACT Viet Nam
Green One UN House, 4th Floor
304 Kim Ma Street
Hanoi, Viet Nam
Viet Nam is a source and, to a lesser extent, a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and situations of forced labour. Men and women migrate abroad for work through predominantly state-affiliated and private labour export companies in the construction, fishing, agriculture, mining, logging, and manufacturing sectors. Vietnamese women and children subjected to forced prostitution throughout Asia are often misled by fraudulent labour opportunities and sold to brothels on the borders of Cambodia, China, and Lao PDR, with some victims transported to third destination countries, including Thailand and Malaysia.
Alongside common trafficking trends of labour and sexual exploitation, Vietnamese victims have been reportedly trafficked into forced marriages, and children from rural areas subjected to forced begging and street hawking. While various high risk areas exist throughout Viet Nam for vulnerable persons, there are three primary cross-border trafficking flows that can be identified: Viet Nam – China (accounting for roughly 65% of all identified cases), Viet Nam – Cambodia (11%) and Viet Nam – Laos (6.5%).
Women and girls are considered more susceptible to trafficking than men due to unequal gender relations and socio-economic positions, though both are at risk for different forms of exploitation. Trafficking has been reported of men, often from ethnic minorities, into situations of forced labour in brick factories, mines or sugarcane fields in China; and of of women into China, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore for sexual exploitation. These women may be sold to brothels, sold to other buyers, or forced to work in manufacturing. There is also an increasing demand for virgins and children in prostitution resulting in rising levels of child sex tourism.
Traffickers come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from recruitment agency staff to victim family members. Vietnamese labour export companies and unlicensed intermediary brokers have been known to operate illegally, exploiting vulnerable and desperate migrants. More organized crime groups are involved in trafficking further overseas, such as in the forced labour of Vietnamese children on cannabis farms in the UK. Traffickers are also increasingly using the internet as a channel to lure victims. Such crimes are further facilitated by corruption, including at border crossings and checkpoints.
Despite progress in some areas in recent years, many counter-trafficking challenges remain to be addressed in Viet Nam. The definition of trafficking in the country’s trafficking in persons law does not fully correspond with international definitions, and may conflate smuggling and human trafficking in some instances. In addition, various bilateral agreements have been signed, but have not yet been fully implemented.
Prevention activities are conducted sporadically, and focus on raising awareness rather than behaviour change. While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintained its online migration website providing prospective migrants with access to relevant information and resources, the government has not increased efforts to enforce regulations, and overall efforts to regulate recruitment companies and marriage brokers remain inadequate.
Substandard thematic research and data collection has also resulted in a limited picture of the scale of the trafficking problem in Viet Nam. Furthermore, anti-trafficking efforts by the government, international organizations and NGOs are affected by corruption among local authorities and collusion with traffickers.
For national, bi- and multilateral laws and agreements on human trafficking involving Myanmar, please see the resource section.