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Engendering the evaluation of anti-trafficking policy: The Vietnamese National Action Programme against trafficking in women and children 2004-2010 (THE VNAP)

Human trafficking is a prominent global problem affecting some 27 million people worldwide and has social, developmental, and human rights implications. Although in its various forms trafficking affects men, women and children, it has long been conceptualised as a women’s issue because women have comprised the majority of trafficking victims. Whilst historically associated with the transit of women for forced prostitution, today there are various socio-economic and cultural factors that contribute to the increasingly complex forms of trafficking in persons: poverty, patriarchy, globalisation, increased labour demand, and the growth of the sex industry. Vietnam, with other countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), is a major source country for human trafficking in Southeast Asia. In an effort to address its growing trafficking problem, the Government of Vietnam has put in place multi-dimensional and multi-sectorial policies, most notably in the form of The Vietnamese National Action Programme Against Trafficking in Women and Children 2004-2010 (VNAP). The VNAP was aimed at preventing the crime, punishing the perpetrators, and reintegrating survivors into the community. The present research undertakes a gender evaluation of the VNAP. The objective of this study is to explore the extent to which the VNAP has achieved its policy objectives and goals, and to assess its effectiveness in addressing trafficking from a gender perspective. More specifically, this gender evaluation seeks to assess the effectiveness of the VNAP in changing the context that contributes to the trafficking of women. It examines the gender politics of policy-making surrounding an issue rooted in a patriarchal society and state. Finally, it aims to illuminate processes of policymaking in the market-oriented socialist country of Vietnam. The gender evaluation presented in this thesis adapts Fischer’s policy evaluation framework to examine whether the VNAP’s stated objectives, in relation to the 3Ps (Prevention, Protection, and Prosecution) were fulfilled; whether partnerships (as the fourth P) were successful in providing a united approach to combating the crime; whether the VNAP was gender-sensitive in involving women’s voices in policymaking, and contributing to women’s empowerment; and whether the ideologies around gender and women that underpinned the VNAP may have undermined its impact and effectiveness and, if so, in what ways. The evaluation is informed by extensive qualitative research conducted in Vietnam in 2010, and draws on both primary and secondary data. The primary data includes transcripts from a series of interviews and focus group discussions conducted in three cities and provincial locations, in which 114 state actors, non-state actors, trafficking survivors, and women in the community shared their views on human trafficking and the VNAP. The secondary data includes national and international agency reports, policy documents, statistical data, and existing research on human trafficking in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. The findings suggest that although the VNAP successfully implemented some effective programmes of action, especially in terms of disseminating anti-trafficking information and in developing partnerships, there were significant gaps in this policy response. There was a considerable lack of resources and insufficient training provided at various levels of policy-making and a lack of gender-specific training sensitive to the needs of trafficked women. The communication between various actors was ineffective leading to different interpretations of the VNAP’s policy mandates. Furthermore, the definition of human trafficking used in the VNAP denoted human trafficking as exclusively meaning trafficking in women and children, and consequently ignored men as potential policy beneficiaries. From a gender perspective, there was inadequate participation of women in the VNAP’s decision-making and policy-making processes, and an insufficient recognition of trafficked women’s needs for sustainable livelihoods. The VNAP, as it was implemented, failed to enhance the accountability of the state to women. Furthermore, the VNAP and its related institutional structures were built on patriarchal gender constructions that marginalised women’s roles and abilities. Overall, while the VNAP, at best, improved women’s awareness of trafficking, it did not create a context in which women were effectively empowered in their families and in their communities. Consequently, Vietnamese women’s greater vulnerability to the risks of being trafficked continues to persist.
Type of thesis
Duong, K. A. (2014). Engendering the evaluation of anti-trafficking policy: The Vietnamese National Action Programme against trafficking in women and children 2004-2010 (THE VNAP) (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8819
University of Waikato
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