The average monthly income for a sex worker in Vietnam is VND8.6 million (US$412), 2.5 times higher than the median income of 20 percent of the highest income earners in the country, according to a survey involving around 400 prostitutes.
Accordingly, female sex workers earn VND10.6 million ($510) a month each while a male counterpart gets just VND6.55 million ($315).
A sex worker works 5 to 7 hours per day and 19 days a month on average, the survey finds out.
This survey was done by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs which studied 189 men and 199 women working as sex workers in three major cities: Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Hai Phong.
According to Associate Professor Nguyen Huu Minh, Chief of Institute for Family and Gender Studies cum head of the project, more than three quarters of those who were questioned are under 25; 18 percent aged between 16-18, and around 4% are under 15.
Minh says almost sex workers in the survey are educated as nearly 50 percent of them have junior high school diplomas. Several even boast university degrees.
More than 60 percent of them work independently or get involved in prostitution through recommendations of their friends or acquaintances. The rest is under control of hotels, restaurants owners or other service providers.
The survey shows 70 percent have been working as prostitutes for less than three years with 16 percent working for more than five years.
Male prostitutes earn highest. They usually hunt for clients, who are rich middle-aged women, at restaurants, bars or nightclubs. They are paid from VND800,000 ($38) to VND2.5 million ($120) per time.
However, gay male escorts of the LeoList type are paid lower: from VND100,000 to VND VND150,000 per encounter.
High income from sex work is the reason 53 percent went for the job while 25 percent willingly became sex workers. Others said family conflicts or poor family circumstances or failure in love have forced them into prostitution.
Meanwhile, men volunteer for sex work not only to get high income, but also to meet their sexual desires in a country where many people are not open-minded towards sex or homosexuality.
A few people surveyed said they agreed to prostitute themselves to self-actualize their egos.