Despite the spotlight that has illuminated the dark world of human trafficking the past decade, the crime of bartering people against their will is still one of the most extensive transnational crimes women and young girls and boys fall victim to. It involves denying people of their rights as humans and forcing them to be exploited by using deception, violence or any other means necessary.
At a meeting held in the capital last week, the National Committee for Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking revealed that just between January to May of this year, sixteen young women ,the majority of them under 18, have been sold and traded by human trafficking networks.
According to the General Police Department, from January 1 to the end of May, 16 human trafficking cases were reported, resulting in the arrest of 21 suspects, including 9 women.
The meeting focused on implementation measures against human trafficking with the committee primarily concentrating on areas at risk.
The victims of trafficking are often young women, and girls and boys under the age of 18. In most cases, human trafficking victims come from destitute, low-income, countryside households who illegally enter neighboring countries looking for work to support their families back home.
In a 2012 report, statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime showed a collective 27 million people from 127 countries are trafficked annually, with 70-80 percent of the victims being women and children.
Laos and its surrounding countries have reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate with one another in an effort to combat human trafficking more effectively.
In an attempt to hinder the illegal trade, the six lower Mekong countries – Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT) in 2004. The Lao government is concentrating on preventing human trafficking, especially to protect women and children from criminal gangs involved in the heinous trade.