• migration;
  • sexual exploitation;
  • violence;
  • decision making;
  • condom use;
  • Vietnam

Young women are often lured or forced into selling sex as a result of migrating from rural to urban areas to find work. In this setting, they are exposed to high-risk situations, which may leave them vulnerable to exploitation. Using interviews with young migrant women currently working as sex workers in northern Vietnam, we recorded the perspectives of their initiation into sex work and life as a sex worker. The study found that high levels of forced sex and sexual exploitation were experienced by the majority of the young women interviewed. The young women describe their entry into sex work, first sexual experience (intercourse), violence, and condom negotiation and use. Although access to health care was available, the young women perceived the stigma attached to sex work as a barrier to receiving health care, and thus, preferred health education and care from peers. Health education programs focusing on peer education and support are essential for protecting and empowering these young women. In addition, policies and programs must work toward effective strategies to protect young migrant women.