In 2012. sex workers in Vietnam got together and formed a national network in order to bring about positive changes for their communities.
During the annual Vietnam Civil Society Platform on AIDS in 2012, sex workers who had been organising in small groups for some years, realised there was a lot of interest among sex workers to create a national network to have a bigger voice.
Inspired partly by other national networks in Vietnam, such as those for people living with HIV and people who use drugs, an initial group of 11 community-based organisations representing seven provinces and cities created the Vietnam Network of Sex Workers.
Early achievements included the closing down of the notorious Detention Centre Number 5 “Educational Center” where drug users and sex workers were sent as an alternative to prison – but where conditions were in fact worse.
The network aims to represent the voices, and act for the legitimate interests, of sex workers in Vietnam, in order to improve quality of life and decrease stigma and discrimination against sex workers.
Ongoing activities include advocacy around laws and policies, and supporting and strengthening VNSW member organisations around the country.
By 2015 membership had grown to 32 groups in 21 provinces and cities.