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Journal of Social Change

Abstract

Human trafficking crime is rising globally at an alarming rate. Vietnam has one of the highest prevalence of trafficking female victims for forced sex and marriages and of girls abandoning school for unskilled work. In this study, we explored human trafficking awareness in remote communities of central Vietnam and the factors for young girls leaving school for work at an early age. The study also investigated a link between gender inequality and child labor. Gender inequality and vulnerability theories provided theoretical constructs and context for face-to-face interviews with 19 villagers, mothers of the child labor victims, teachers, human services workers, members of the Vietnam Women’s Union, and village leaders in research sites. Participants had minimal knowledge about human trafficking crimes and believed much of human trafficking crime was illegal organ trading. None of the 19 participants attended a human trafficking training session in their villages nor at the workplace. Due to the families’ financial difficulty, 14 had fallen victim to child labor, and their parents did not know that they were committing a criminal act. This study’s findings have implications for assisting policymakers and law enforcement officials and offering guidance that may help protect people in vulnerable communities. In light of these findings, we also encourage the Vietnamese government to bridge the gender inequality divide so that young girls in these remote communities can achieve an equal voice and equal justice that they deserve.

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