News/VIETNAM: CHILDREN SOLD INTO BEGGING, PIMPING AND DRUG DEALING.

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Subject: News/VIETNAM: CHILDREN SOLD INTO BEGGING, PIMPING AND DRUG DEALING.
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Apr 19 2000 - 12:50:53 EDT


4-18-00 VIETNAM: CHILDREN SOLD INTO BEGGING, PIMPING AND DRUG DEALING.
By HUW WATKIN in Hanoi.
It could have been a scene from a movie depicting the dark and decadent
streets of Saigon during the Vietnam War, but instead was a real-life
Saturday night incident in what was once the socially disciplined northern
capital.
A taxi carrying two foreigners pulled up outside a popular Hanoi bar and
was immediately surrounded by a swarm of child beggars. But one young boy,
barely waist-high and probably no more than eight years old, was offering
something in return.
"Hey mister, you want ganga, opium, heroin. You want a girl," he said,
persisting despite the firm refusals of the hapless and increasingly
flustered foreign visitors.

The incident lends credence to recent media reports that children are being
increasingly used by organised begging gangs, pimps and drug dealers.
The authorities and international child welfare organisations have
expressed concern at the relatively new but increasing phenomenon, which
has added another dimension to the trade in children - who are most often
sold or "rented" by poor farmers seeking work in the cities.
A consultant's report prepared late last year for several child welfare
agencies found that trafficking in children for begging and soliciting
represented a new and worrying form of bonded labour.
"It is ... becoming more and more pervasive in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi,
but has also increased in the larger provincial cities ... the consultants
conclude that the selling of children (for these purposes) is a reality and
is an under-reported aspect of trafficking," the report said.
"Some parents ... leave their children in `care' while they go to work. The
children can be rented to beggars (and) there is the suggestion that they
are drugged," the report concluded.

State-controlled media have published accounts of mothers in Ho Chi Minh
City who rent out their children for 20,000 dong (HK$11) a day.
The full extent of the problem remains unclear, but figures from Vietnam's
so-called "anti-social evils" authority found the number of beggars in the
southern city had increased from 1,500 in 1997 to 7,000 last year.
A similar trend is evident in Hanoi, where nearly one in five street
children now reportedly beg for a living. City authorities have confirmed
that children are also intentionally injured in order to induce the pity of
passers-by.
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST 18/04/2000


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