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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 37, Number 5. 3rd April 1974

Prostitution of Vietnamese Youth

Prostitution of Vietnamese Youth

Menras went to South Vietnam in 1968 as a teacher as part of the French government's programme of "cultural assistance" to the Saigon government. He said he wasn't very politically aware when he arrived, but he was horrified by conditions in Saigon—the presence of hundreds of foreign troops pushing the local people around and the sight of young Vietnamese girls from the country forced into prostitution.

Sent to Da Nang to teach, Menras was able to observe firsthand the way in which the Americans destroyed villages in the countryside, as part of their policy of trying to isolate the National Liberation Front from the people. First he said, the villagers would be told to leave their villages because of an impending "Vietcong attack". Then planes would fly over and drop leaflets saying the "attack" was imminent and they would come again and bomb the village to rubble. The people would be taken away by Saigon troops to barbed wire camps around the big U.S. airbase at Da Nang.

Once they had been forced off their land the villagers became totally dependent on the U.S. military and the Saigon government for their livelihood. Menras emphasised that alongside the military destruction of Vietnam there was the bastardisation of the Vietnamese culture. Menras described a visit he made to a wretchedly poor family in Cholon, the Chinese town of Saigon. Outside the the house was a brand-new Honda motorcycle. Hanging on a wall next to the family's ancestral shrine was a pinup from "Playboy".