Trafficking of women from Laos to China to serve as wives for Chinese men or to work in prostitution is increasing amid economic pressure following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused economic hardship in many Lao communities, leading to an increase in the trafficking of Lao women and girls to China.
Trafficking is typically brokered by Lao middlemen who recruit young women or convince parents to marry off their daughters, authorities say.
The victims are told they will be able to have a new, better life in China and will be able to send money back to their families every month.
But the reality is often much worse, with many women simply sold directly into prostitution.
Brokers have even begun to brazenly recruit on Facebook, joining employment-focused Facebook groups and promising quick money through marriage to Chinese men.
Meanwhile, trafficking of women domestically has been documented as well, with Lao women transported north to become sex workers in Special Economic Zones, while Vientiane Times reports that some 221 women, including 15 Vietnamese nationals, were found working as prostitutes in Attapeu province.
Many of the women were persuaded to work as prostitutes in local guesthouses, hotels, massage parlors, nightclubs, and bars.
In a recent case reported last month, Lao authorities, in cooperation with the Lao Women’s Union, successfully assisted two young women who had become victims of human trafficking.
The young women, aged between 14 and 16 years, were to be trafficked to China following a deal brokered between their parents and a trafficking organization.
The parents were told they would receive a dowry of USD 4,000.