Coercive sex is prohibited in Vietnam. Article 112 of the Vietnamese Penal Code says: Any person who uses force or any other means to have sexual intercourse with another person against his will shall be sentenced to imprisonment from 1 to 5 years. Any person who commits rape of a minor aged from 13 upward or a girl to whom he has the responsibility to give care and education or to provide medical treatment shall be sentenced to imprisonment from 2 to 7 years.[Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality */ ]

Any person who commits a crime in one of the following cases shall be sentenced to imprisonment from 5 to 15 years: 1) Organized rape or rape that does serious harms to the victim’s health. 2) Rape of many persons or creation of serious harms to the victim’s health3) Relapse into former crime with more severity. Any person who commits a crime which causes the death or the suicide of the victim or commits a crime in a specially serious circumstance shall be sentenced to imprisonment from 12 to 20 years, to life imprisonment or to death penalty.*/

Any cases of having sex with a child aged under 13 shall be regarded as committing a rape and the person in question shall be sentenced to imprisonment from 7 to 15 years. Any person who commits a crime belonging to one of the cases stipulated in items 2 and 3 of this article shall be sentenced to imprisonment from 12 to 20 years, to life imprisonment or to death penalty. */

Rape and Incest in Vietnam

According to the U.S. Department of State: Vietnamese law prohibits using or threatening violence against women or taking advantage of a person who cannot act in self-defense. It also criminalizes rape, including spousal rape. Rapists are subject to two to seven years’ imprisonment. In severe cases of rape, including organized rape, a repeat offense, or extreme harm to the victim, sentences may range from seven to 15 years in prison. Authorities reportedly prosecuted rape cases to the full extent of the law, but the government did not make arrest, prosecution, conviction, and punishment statistics available. [Source: 2011 Human Rights Reports: Vietnam, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor,U.S. Department of State; 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices Report, May 24, 2012]

There exist few statistics about sexual abuse, and they are not very reliable. It is, for instance, quite questionable when Hoang Ba and Pham Kim Ngoc (1996) state that before the 1990s, only 400 cases of rape of women and children had occurred in the whole country in one year: From January 1993 to July 1995, 1,685 cases of rape (324 cases being of children) occurred. Compared with the years prior to 1990, cases of child raping only accounted for 4 to 6 percent of the total, but in the past three years, this rate has increased. Concretely speaking, in 1993 rapes of children accounted for 14.6 percent, in 1994 16.6 percent and in the first months of 1995, the rate reached as high as 30 percent. The victims were young girls in the age group 10-13 but there were also cases of raping little girls aged only 4-5. In Ho Chi Minh City in 1994, 55 rapes of children occurred out of a total of 107 cases. 43 of them were under 13 (Hoang Ba & Pham Kim Ngoc 1996). [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality */ ]

As O’Harrow (1995) remarked, the vocative system of the Vietnamese language is largely devoid of pronouns and uses, relying instead on static kinship terms. Thus, in Vietnamese, a husband and wife enjoy a fictive incest. The husband speaks to his wife using the same terms he has always used towards his real younger sisters, referring to himself as "older brother" (anh) and calling his wife "little sister" (em). Also, a very peculiar incest taboo is found in Vietnam: It is forbidden for a Buddhist student to marry the widow of his teacher (Gregersen 1996). The traditional punishment for incest was strangulation of the offender. */

Sexual Exploitation of Children in Vietnam

According to the U.S. Department of State: “Sexual harassment of children under age 16 is illegal. The law criminalizes all acts of sale, fraudulent exchange, or control of children as well as all acts related to child prostitution and forced child labor. Sentences range from three years’ to life imprisonment, and fines range from VND five million to VND 50 million (approximately $240 to $2,400). The law also specifies prison sentences for acts related to child prostitution, including harboring prostitution (12 to 20 years), brokering prostitution (seven to 15 years), and buying sex with minors (three to 15 years). Similarly, the law prohibits all acts of cruel treatment, humiliation, abduction, sale, and coercion of children into any activities harmful to their healthy development and provides for the protection and care of disadvantaged children. [Source: 2011 Human Rights Reports: Vietnam, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor,U.S. Department of State; 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices Report, May 24, 2012 ***]

The minimum age of consensual sex is 18. Statutory rape is illegal and may result in life imprisonment or capital punishment. Penalties for sex with minors between the ages of 16 and 18, depending upon the circumstances, vary from five to 10 years in prison. The production, distribution, dissemination, or selling of child pornography is illegal and carries a sentence of three to 10 years’ imprisonment. ***

According to preliminary findings released in July of a 2010 survey conducted by UNICEF and the Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MOLISA), child prostitution, child trafficking for sexual purposes, child sex tourism, and child pornography occurred in Vietnam. The report showed that children as young as age 12 worked as prostitutes, with the most commonly observed age being 14-15. Some minors entered into prostitution for economic reasons. ***

Child Sexual Abuse and Pedophilia

Incestuous relations and child marriages, as well as early marriages, are prohibited by the Penal Code in Articles 112, 146, and 145. Although reliable statistical data are not available, it seems quite certain that the number of juvenile prostitutes has increased rather quickly in recent years. Based on the ratio of age range of prostitutes provided by the Nam Ha province, it is known that among 164 prostitutes, 17.6 percent of them are in the 13-to-16-year age group and 19.5 percent are in the 16-to-18-year age group. Together, there are 37.4 percent in the 13-to-19-year age group. Another research document on prostitution in Ho Chi Minh City shows that in 1989, juvenile prostitutes accounted for 2.1 percent of the total number of prostitutes; in 1990, the rate was 5.2 percent, and in 1995, it was as high as 15 percent (Hoang Ba & Pham Kim Ngoc 1996). The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had a 1995 estimate that there were 40,000 child sex workers throughout Vietnam. [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality */ ]

Jacobus X. (1898) records a variety of proverbial sayings common in French-dominated Vietnam of the nineteenth century: "For a girl to be still a virgin at ten years old, she must have neither brothers nor fathers." The same author reports on pedophilia: ... whilst he is a nay [a boy who is carrying a "basket" for a customer], he has not usually reached the age of puberty. As may easily be imagined, these poor little wretches fall into the hands of "active" pederasts, who are not remarkable for gentleness and kindness, and who brutally assuage their lewd passions without caring what may be the result. I have often found, in these unfortunate nays, marks of attempts that have been committed almost by violence, the fact being that a lad not yet arrived at puberty, and frail and weak, is incapable of making any serious resistance to brutal attempts at sodomy on the part of an adult European or Asiatic. (Jacobus X. 1898)

During the Vietnam War, sex with children and incestuous sex was frequently connected with prostitution. Marnais (1967) reported that it was possible to watch live sex shows with teenage twins and also hire them for sex. In a Saigon brothel called the "Doll House," over fifty girls, none older than 12, served the clients for sadomasochistic games. In the "House of Pain," very young girls got injections of heroin to make them physically and psychologically dependent.

Child Sex Tourism Involving Minors in Vietnam,

In May 2006, reported: "Sex tourism involving minors is growing at an alarming rate in Vietnam. The three-year prison sentence imposed on former British rocker Gary Glitter for sexually abusing two girls, 11 and 12, at his home in the southern resort town of Vung Tau, is just the most high-profile case. The singer is set to appeal this month in Ho Chi Minh City. Children’s rights groups say there is a broader, growing problem with child-sex tourism and underage prostitution in Vietnam that still rarely makes the international radar screen. This trend is widely attributed to a combination of factors: poverty, fast-rising tourism, ineffective law enforcement. [Source:, May 5, 2006 ]

Whilst child-sex tourism has long been a well-known problem in other Southeast Asian countries, its emergence in Vietnam reflects the country’s new-found openness to the outside world. After a hiatus of 15 years ago, tourist arrivals in Vietnam reached 3.5 million in 2005, up 18.4 percent from the previous year. As early as 2003, a foreign-aided study estimated that 30 percent of 185,000 sex workers in Vietnam were under the age of 16. Official estimates released two months ago indicated there were now five times as many prostitutes under the age of 18 than just five years ago. The police, which is rife with corruption, rarely intervenes. When caught, prostitutes of any age are usually sent to "re-education centers". Street-level support services remain scarce.

Whilst Vietnam has strict laws against child-sex exploitation—Glitter was charged with crimes that could have brought the death penalty—enforcement of them is "rather weak", said Tran Viet Phu, of World Vision Vietnam. In light of the problem, many foreign countries like the United States and the United Kingdom have adopted laws punishing sex crimes even when committed abroad.

Gary Glitter in Vietnam

Former glam rocker Gary Glitter—whose real name is Paul Francis Gadd—lived in Cambodia until 2002, before being permanently deported to Vietnam, due to suspected child sexual abuse although Cambodian officials did not specify any crime or file charges. From March 2005, Glitter resided in Vung Tàu, Vietnam.

In the 1970s, Glitter was a pop icon in Britain famed for his sequinned jump-suits, platform heels and bouffant wigs. Glitter had hits with "Leader of the Gang" and "Do You Wanna Touch" but is perhaps best known for his crowd-pleasing rock anthem "Rock and Roll (Parts 1&2)," which is still played at sporting events. His fall from grace began with a conviction in Britain in 1999 for possessing child pornography. He served half of a four-month jail term.

Despite having applied for permanent residence in Vietnam, Gary Glitter fled his home in November 2005. Three days later, he was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City while trying to board a flight to Thailand. Six Vietnamese girls and women, aged from 11 to 23, claimed that Glitter had had sex with them; the age of consent in Vietnam is 18. After his arrest, Glitter was turned over to provincial police from Ba Ria-Vung Tau and returned to Vung Tau and held on suspicion of having sex with the two under-age girls. Glitter was held in jail throughout the criminal investigation, which was completed in late December 2005. The charge of rape was dropped for "lack of evidence" (according to Glitter's lawyer), although the singer admitted that an 11-year-old girl had slept in his bed. Glitter could have faced execution by firing squad if convicted of child rape. After having received compensatory payments from Glitter, the families of the girls appealed to the courts for clemency for him. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Early in 2006, he was convicted of committing obscene acts with minors and sentenced to three years imprisonment. On one of two appeals, in 2007 this was reduced by three months. He was released from prison on 19 August 2008 and returned to London three days later, after being refused entry into Thailand and Hong Kong. +

Trial of Gary Glitter in Vietnam

In March 2006 Glitter was tried on charges of committing obscene acts with two girls, aged 10 and 11, facing up to 14 years in prison if convicted. The following day he was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison. He was also forced to pay compensation of $320 to each girl's family, as well as court fees. Judge Hoang Thanh Tung: "He sexually abused and committed obscene acts with children many times in a disgusting and sick manner." The sentence included mandatory deportation at the end of his sentence, and payment of 5 million Vietnamese dong (US$315) to his victims' families. Glitter continued to deny any wrongdoing, saying he believes he was framed by British tabloid newspapers. He announced he planned to spend part of his sentence writing an autobiography, which he had already begun during his pre-trial. [Source: Wikipedia +]

The Daily Mail reported: "Glitter was found guilty of committing obscene acts with a 10-year-old and 11-year-old girl at his rented seaside villa in southern Vung Tau last year. The judge also said Glitter would be deported from Vietnam after serving his sentence. The court, in its verdict, cited graphic testimony from the girls that Glitter had fondled and molested them multiple times in his rented home and in nearby hotels. One girl said he had ejaculated on her stomach, while the other girl said he had her urinate on him. The details drew gasps from the crowd. [Source: AP, Daily Mail, March 3, 2006 ]

"In reading out the verdict, Judge Hoang Thanh Tung condemned Glitter for paedophilia. "Caring for children is to care for our future... but Gary Glitter's acts went against this," the judge said. "He sexually abused and committed obscene acts with children many times in a disgusting and sick manner." The former glam rocker showed no emotion while the verdict was read, but threw the court into disarray by proclaiming his innocence afterward. "I haven't done anything. I'm innocent. It's a conspiracy by you know who," Glitter shouted, apparently referring to British tabloid newspapers that had tracked down his presence in Vietnam. Reporters and onlookers, allowed into the courthouse in southern Ba Ria-Vung province to hear the verdict following the closed two-day trial, pressed toward Glitter in a scene of pandemonium as police fended them off and escorted him out of the building.

Glitter sported a more conservative look for his trial: black clothes and a red bandana on his head that he removed inside the court. Glitter, who looked visibly thinner since his arrest, has been held at Phuoc Co prison outside Vung Tau since November 19, when he was caught at the Ho Chi Minh City airport trying to board a flight for Bangkok. Police confiscated his laptop, which had hundreds of pornographic pictures on it.

Gary Glitter Defends Himself and Appeals

Glitter, in his first interview in more than eight years to BBC News in May 2006, denied any wrongdoing and claimed not to have knowingly had sex with anyone under 18. He also said "I know the line [not] to cross". When asked what he thought of adults having sex with children he said "It certainly is a crime ... I would be very angry about that." Christine Beddoe, director of End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking, criticised Glitter and said he was trying to "minimise what he has done" and added "We must allow children to tell their story and not just have the words of Gadd." [Source: Wikipedia +]

In his interview, Glitter denied that he was a paedophile. He said that he had hoped that there was even a slim chance he could put his life back on track and have a career after he left prison in England. The people around him felt that the media had already made a sensation about the paedophile allegations. He continued to blame the press for his downfall and called them "the worst enemy in the world", alleging 'entrapment' by them by paying local girls in a bar to arrange a photo-scoop. Glitter did not comment about his previous conviction for possession of child pornography several years earlier. +

In June 2006, in a closed hearing, the People's Supreme Court of Appeals heard Glitter's appeal for a reduced sentence. The three-judge panel rejected the appeal four weeks later. Although he was calm throughout the 40-minute reading of the verdict, upon leaving the courthouse, he shouted angrily to reporters and denounced Vietnamese justice for not hearing the defense arguments. In February 2007, it was announced that his sentence had been reduced by three months.

Gary Glitter After His Release from Prison in Vietnam

Glitter was released from Thu Duc prison in southern Binh Thuan Province in August 2008. He was escorted under police guard to Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City and put on board a flight to London via Bangkok. At Bangkok he claimed that he had tinnitus and a heart condition, and refused to board the flight to London despite the efforts of British police sent to escort him, although they had no jurisdiction to take action. He was refused entry to Thailand and threatened with deportation to the UK. Later he took a flight to Hong Kong, where he requested medical treatment saying he was suffering a heart attack. The Hong Kong authorities also refused to admit him and he returned to Thailand the next day. [Source: Wikipedia +]

At least 19 countries, including Cuba, Cambodia, and the Philippines, announced that they would refuse to admit Glitter, and on 21 August the Thai authorities stated that he had agreed to return to the UK. He arrived back in the UK at Heathrow Airport at 7:10 am on 22 August 2008, where he was met by British police officers. On his return to the United Kingdom, Glitter was added to the Sex Offenders Register for life, and stated an intention to appeal against this decision; on 16 January 2009 it was announced that he had abandoned this move. +

In June 2008, The Daily Telegraph reported that Gary Glitter planned to record a new album on his prison release. He was quoted as saying "I have an incomplete album that I want to finish. I have been thinking about the plan during my days in jail, I have sung rock'n'roll for 40 years. After jail, I will continue to rock'n'roll." After his release from prison, Glitter said that he was planning to write a book to prove his innocence. +

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, Fox News and various websites, books and other publications identified in the text.

Last updated May 2014

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