Chủ Nhật, 17 tháng 7, 2016

Sexual harassment in Vietnam’s tourism industry

L. H used to be a tour guide, but she left the profession and says she won’t return. She found herself fighting two losing battles - one against sexual harassment by tourists, and another against a family that judged her for participating in an industry seen unfit for women.
Vietnam’s tourism industry is facing a shortage of qualified tour guides as the country looks to bolster tourism revenue. 
One reason their numbers sag is the dangers they face - especially female guides, who are, according to many guides, more at-risk when it comes to sexual harassment and assault. 
Vietnam’s labour laws are improving, but still don’t give adequate protection to workers who have been assaulted or harassed, according to a 2013 research report by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, and the International LabourOrganisation (ILO). 
Female guides also struggle with their families’, friends’ and partners’ negative perceptions of their chosen profession.

sexual harassment in vietnam’s tourism industry hinh 0

L. H, 24, worked as a tour guide for just six months. She graduated from Hanoi University of Foreign Studies with a degree in English.
“I got a shock right after accompanying an experienced tour guide to Ha Long Bay because I was arranged to share a hotel room with the guy and a driver,” H said. 
“I could not sleep the whole night and wished the daytime come quickly. I was lucky to get guidance from my brother’s friend who helped me overcome my first shock. Then, we continued our tour without any problems, until I got a message from one of the members of the tour. He told me to spend some time with him, and in return, I would get some extra money.”
Two months later, during a tour to Ba Na Resort, she said a male tourist called her and asked her to stay with him for the night in return for a bonus.
“I refused, and was surprised when he replied, ‘Don’t pretend to be innocent. I know you, I know tour guides, your colleagues. Do you want me to pay more?’ I could not explain and got away from him without saying a word,” H said. “I felt hurt, but ignored what happened to me because I was told about this before.”
H learned from her peers how to handle tourists who made suggestions she considered inappropriate.
At the same time, though, her boyfriend and his family expressed their disapproval. She said her boyfriend’s mother told her to quit working as a tour guide because it earned her a “bad reputation,” and she could find something else steadier and safer.
“I think of my future and do not want to make my darling’s mom upset,” H said. “At my age now, it’s not difficult to get another job, like office worker or secretary. I finally decided to quit my job and am trying to find a new one before I get married.”
Tour guide is a tough profession. It promises adventure, but that autonomy comes with challenges. Alone with tourists several provinces or time zones away from their homes, guides must fend for themselves, often without support from the companies that hired them or their families’ understanding.
Q. T, who owns a cafe in Hanoi and runs an English club, has been a tour guide for 13 years. But he said he would never let his wife join the profession, and that most people would agree with him.  
“No Vietnamese husband wants their wife to go abroad with rich men,” he said. “They think things will happen. A lot of things can happen in a day.”
Some tourists request attractive female guides. Some offer male or female guides a key to their room as an unspoken signal they want to have sex. Others offer to pay for a night together. Some guides say they are prepared to handle these types of situations. But that isn’t a solution.
Coping with difficulties
N. Tran, marketing development and travel consultant for BestPrice Travel, said the company hadn’t received any complaints of sexual harassment or abuse from their tour guides. But she said she was confident the guides would feel comfortable telling the company or going to police if they did.
BestPrice Travel doesn’t have rules written down to handle cases of harassment. This is common for Vietnamese tour companies.
“If a client has a complaint...our tour guides always know what to do,” Tran said. “Our tour guides are never allowed to lose their professionalism and politeness with customers in any case,” Tran added in an email.
Many guides work as freelancers. They don’t answer to just one company, so they aren’t protected by one. Those who are employed at tour agencies are still responsible for their own wellbeings.
sexual harassment in vietnam’s tourism industry hinh 1

“When something happens, tour operators ask tour guides to deal with the problem themselves,” said N. C, 26, a freelance tour guide. “The key matter is tour guides have to use their soft skills to try their best and not cancel the tour. But controlling rowdy tourists can be more difficult for women tour guides than men.
“For female tour guides there are some cases (where they are abused) but in Vietnam, because of the traditional culture, they don’t get to speak out.”
And that’s when the system of individual and network-based care breaks down.
On her first trip as a guide, another young woman, H. Ha, took two men down to the Mekong Delta. Ha said one night she was called to one of the tourists’ rooms to help him with his luggage, where he abused her.
“I could not protect myself from the guy and did not dare to tell anyone about that, even my boss,” she said. Soon after that she quit her job because she could not cope with what happened.
“It was really a nightmare for me,” Ha said. “The experience of sexual harassment was always in my mind. I could not overcome it and it felt so painful in my heart. I could not continue to do the job anymore, and wanted to escape from those bad feelings by switching careers.”
Experiences like Ha’s aren’t unheard of in the industry, and it’s not uncommon for victims to keep an assault to themselves.
“Tour guides sometimes do not dare to confide with anyone because they are afraid of being looked down on by friends and colleagues,” said Tran Tra, chairman of the Da Nang Tour Guide Association. “They often keep it a secret and suffer by themselves.”
The Danang Tour Guide Association organises training courses for guides and provides them with updated information on the industry, Tra said. Tour guides are the “ambassadors” of Vietnam’s tourism industry, so managing and training them is a top priority, he added.
Guides who attend university are taught to avoid conflict and violence with tourists, said X. K, a 20-year-old student at the National Economic University studying tourism. He said problem solving is a guide’s most important skill.
But even with the training and testing all nationally certified guides go through, many feel more comfortable relying on their peers than on the police or other systems, tour guide N. C said. Most guides he knows rely on their networks instead of their employers in times of need.
Protecting citizens
Vietnam has regulations to protect all citizens from abuse, including tour guides, said lawyer Nguyen Dang Quang, head of the Dang Quang and Corporates law office and member of the Hanoi Bar Association.
“Protecting the rights of sexually harassed workers is included in Vietnam law,” he said. “If tour guides are abused sexually they can lodge a lawsuit against the defendant.”
He added that victims should speak out to police so the law can protect them.
But many victims of abuse in the workplace stay silent because they’re embarrassed or afraid of losing their jobs, according to a 2013 research report by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). 
Those who did speak out faced confusing laws that did not clearly define sexual harassment, “obligate employers to take preventative measures or...establish complaint procedures in the workplace.”
Statistics on sexual harassment in the workplace aren’t widely available, according to the ILO report. But the government has acknowledged the need for improvement. Quang declined to comment on the report.
The ILO and government created a Code of Conduct a year ago to address gaps in the law that stop sexually harassed or abused workers from getting assistance and closure. 
It “encourages nation-wide application by all companies...on a voluntary basis,” according to an ILO news release. But much more research is needed to provide an accurate picture of sexual harassment in Vietnamese tourism, and prevent future assaults.

Không có nhận xét nào:

Đăng nhận xét