Human Trafficking Or Seeking For Better Opportunity?

I’ve read this story about a week ago, it is disturbing to find large numbers of women and children are involved.  Most of those women are probably being sold to some type of sex trades.  Is Lao Government working hard to prevent this trend at all?  Is this meant Laos doesn’t have enough jobs for their people?  I am sure that those women and children are going to Thailand seeking for better opportunity to earn some money to support family back in Laos.  They might be mislead by group of people whom recruiting them to work at factory.  Once they are in Thailand, it is like a fish lost in a big ocean.  UNDP and Lao Government made a movie few years ago regarding this very same issue to educate the woman and children.

I have some relatives back in Laos that are in similar situation.  Few of their children are working illegally in Thailand.

This kind of news usually goes unreported in Laos.  Especially the SEA Games will kick off next week.


Laos: More Women and Chldren Trafficked to Thailand
By Songrit Pongern
Bangkok, Thailand

Click here for Lao version/ຄລິກບ່ອນນີ້ເພື່ອອ່ານພາສາລາວ

A young woman involved in illegal sex business was arrested by police in Thailand and sent back to Laos

High ranking officials of the Lao Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare acknowledge that the number of Lao women and children who have fallen victims of human trafficking is alarmingly increasing, and that the US government has agreed to assist Laos in solving and preventing this problem.

The officials, though admitting that the number is large, say they do not have the exact figure of how many of the victims have been trafficked to Thailand.

However, during the course of a three-year cooperation between Lao and Thai authorities on this matter, as many as 1,100 women and children who were trafficked to Thailand have been rescued and sent back to Laos.

According to Thailand’s Ministry of Labor, there are over 400,000 Lao workers currently working in Thailand. But only 80,000 of that number have properly registered to work there legally. This means that more than 300,000 of those are illegal workers, and over 60% of them are women and children who are at risk of falling into the trap of transnational human trafficking in Thailand.

Lao authorities acknowledge that it is a daunting task for them to prevent Lao

Lao officials held an anti-child sex workshop last year to discuss the serious impact of human trafficking on Lao women and children

workers from sneaking into Thailand to seek employment and work illegally there since Laos and Thailand share a common border of almost 2,000 kilometer long. Another factor is the inability of the Lao government to create enough jobs for its growing workforce.

Nevertheless, Lao officials believe that the gravity of this problem will be mitigated if they receive cooperation from foreign governments and the international community in developing and lifting Lao workers’ skills to the standard of foreign companies.

Aware of this situation, the U.S. government, via its embassy in Vientiane, has agreed to help Laos combat the problem, aimed at reducing the number of Lao women and children falling into the trap of transnational human trafficking and trafficked to Thailand.

Listen to Songrit’s report for more details in Lao.


11 thoughts on “Human Trafficking Or Seeking For Better Opportunity?

  1. salalao

    Sex trade bring BIG bucks the tourist industry in Thailand.
    It’s a common sight in Thailand when you see European male with a younger asian girl.
    This type of news is not really that surpring. It is such a shame that Lao goverment can not control the flow of mirgate worker to Thailand. My worse fear is when they do come back home. They contracted a deadly disease such as HIV/AIDS and transmitted to their spouse’s or when young girl/or guy contracted the diseases and can no longer work. They return home to their parent’s, now the parent have to take care of this sick child. Laos does not have or lack of medical service dealing with infectious diseases such HIV/AIDS. It is a huge burden on the family socially and economically. Treatments for HIV infections are expensive in the U.S let alone in Laos. Laos has the lowerest rate of HIV infections but is on the rise due to the migration workers across the border.
    Until Laos can bring the economic levels to their neighboring countries. There will always be people seeking opportunities else where just like here in the U.S. You live in CA I’m sure you have witness the changes more drastically than other States.

    1. seeharhed Post author

      salalao – If you contracted HIV/AIDS living in Laos, your days are numbers.

      Yes, I’ve seen more and more Hispanic men hanging around at Lowe’s/Home Depot waiting to be hire for their labors. But as for women seeking other kind of opportunity then I wouldn’t know. I have pretty boring life, I haven’t really been out and about for so long.

  2. Nye

    seeharhed, it’s not just the Lao, but also the Thais as well. It’s kind of sad to see those that farm on other people’s back and in this case, women and children.

    I think many are lured into this, a victim of situation and circumstances. But sadly some do it on their free will just to get out of poverty and seeing the luxury items that their friends have are very tempting to some, people just don’t make a wise decision sometimes.

    I can’t say that there is no opportunity in Laos, if that’s the case, then why would the Chinese want to live there? I just feel that we’re not utilizing our resources very well, most think in short term gain and not a long term goal.

    1. seeharhed Post author

      Nye – I guess as long there is demand for these type of services, large numbers of women and children will be the victims.

      You’re right, so many Chinese and Vietnamese are working in Laos. The locals are worry that the Northern Region of Laos will soon be new china town, especially in Luang Namtha. Few years ago, one of the town in China was hit with big earthquake and pretty much wipe out the town. Majority of those surviving folks is now living and working in Laos. You can’t blame the locals if their high ranking officials aren’t doing their jobs.

      1. Nye

        seeharhed, the sad part about Laos is the social gap that’s getting wider and wider, the rich are getting richer and the poor are poorer, seems so unfair sometimes.

  3. Jeffrey

    There needs to be a short term and a long term vision to build up the economy and help people find better jobs in Laos. Much of southeast Asia is still economically depressed. In Korea, there are many migrant workers from the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Sadly, most of these young men and women work in very dangerous and difficult jobs that Koreans do not want. I’ve already seen a lot of foreign investment in Laos, but how much of that is translated into jobs for Laotians?

    Hopefully the SEA Games will create a spike in tourism that will bring in revenue and also stimulate the tourism industry. Beyond the SEA games, some sort of economic stimulus is needed to create jobs and bring in industry.

    1. seeharhed Post author

      Jeffrey – Most of the foreign investment in Laos are in Mining fields. I’m not sure how much of those are translate into jobs for laotians. Laos needs to create more jobs in order to prevent people seeking works in neighbor countries.

  4. Jeffrey

    Exactly. And it needs to start with schools, educational opportunities and skills that can be utilized in the high tech industries. I know, this is easier said than done but I have much hope for Laos’ future and hope that I can in some small way help out with the country and the culture I have fallen in love with.

    1. seeharhed Post author

      Jeffrey – I’m sure you had chance to witness the schools in Laos. It is so depressing to see the conditions most of those schools are in. Teachers are getting pays the minimum state workers wages. How are they going to expect those teachers to perform at higher level?

      I also have much hope for the future of Laos.

  5. Victor

    Seeharhed – this is not surprising at all. The only way to highlight the issue is hopefully some independent TV network/journalist provide a coverage story on human trafficking. Recently, after I came back from Laos, I saw a documentary program on Australia’s SBS reporting exactly this kind of problem – trafficking of young Lao girls to Thailand and become sex slaves in one of Thai biggest tourist lure (and for pedophile lust). It is very sad and disturbing for me when I saw that programme, and 2 young Lao girls were interviewed. Fortunately, one of the girl managed to be saved and returned back to her village.
    Most of the trafficking occurs because of the promise of a better job, and the parents were naive enough to believe and let go of the child for a bit of money.
    Some girls interviewed went on their own and knew what will happened but still take the risks.
    It is a social issue across SEA. So not isolated to Laos.
    When I was in Penang, I read the newspaper on my last day and saw on the front page – foreign beggars in Melaka night market. These beggars were reportedly from Laos and Cambodia, who have been so badly disfigured with acid on their faces beyond recognition, and hands and/or legs amputated so they cannot escape. This beggars belong to a certain group to beg for sympathy and can easily make a lot of money. How this happen in this modern days is hard to imagine. I wish the authority will catch the organisation and bring them to justice and hopefully able to find the beggar’s family to return them.

    1. seeharhed Post author

      Victor – Few years ago, UNDP and Laos Government produce a movie regarding this topic to educate the people. I’m not sure how many people in Laos were able to see the film. You can search at youtube under lao movie, the name of movie is Bod Hian Xee Vid, which translate to “The Lesson of Life”. It is a very touching story. Sorry, I am not able to link it because I’m at work right now. I can not access youtube and few other sites that they filter out.. 🙂

      You’re right, it is a social issue across SEA countries.


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