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Legal confusion

Much of the problem arises because of the legal status of trafficking victims, says Florian Forster, head of the International Office of Migration (IOM) in Vietnam.

"Trafficking across international borders was recognised for a much longer time but internal trafficking has only been officially recognised since 2011. It takes time to implement those things, for the government to spread the message," he says.

The new law came into effect in January last year but as yet no guidelines exist on how to use it.

Mr Forster says the details are "being worked on" but it "requires training."

In the meantime, most internal labour traffickers are generally not treated as criminals but are punished with administrative sanctions, such as illegal detention or use of weapons. The factory owner who imprisoned Hieu was fined $500 and the factory was closed down, but he did not go to court.

While the government is deciding how to punish internal trafficking, debate continues about the severity of the problem. This is partly because some children receive wages.

"We have come across kids who are paid, and the amount might come to $50 or $100 for a year," said Mr Brosowski. "Given that the children work 18 hours per day, seven days per week, that money is ridiculously paltry.

"No one is doubting that a girl taken to a brothel in China is extremely severe," Mr Brosowski said.

"But culturally there's still a bit of discussion about whether it's so bad that a child whose family are very poor, doesn't have enough to eat, has dropped out of school, if he goes to a factory, is that such a bad thing?"

For Hieu at least, the horror of the sweatshop is in the past. He decided not to go back to Dien Bien, and Blue Dragon is helping him train as a mechanic in Hanoi.

"I hope my life will be better and I can help my family," he said.


Date: 2015-02-03; view: 826

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