New Protection Centers Opened in Laos for Survivors of Violence

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(Photo: UNFPA)

New centers for survivors of violence opened in Bolikhamxay and Champasack provinces. These two new “Counseling and Protection Centers for Women and Children” are the country’s 5th and 6th protection hubs for survivors of violence to seek accommodation and shelter, counseling, psychosocial support, legal advice, and vocational training.

Staff can also refer survivors to additional health and justice services available in the province and nationwide.

Globally, one in three women has faced physical or sexual violence—a stark reality mirrored in Laos. According to the 2014 national Violence Against Women prevalence study, one in three women in Laos has encountered physical, sexual, and/or emotional violence. 

However, only 10 out of 100 women disclosed their experiences of violence, and merely 2 out of 100 survivors sought assistance and support services, the study revealed. This underscores the pressing need for increased awareness, support systems, and initiatives to address and reduce the prevalence of gender-based violence.

“From this moment onwards, these centers will provide services based on the standard operating procedures for the social and health sectors, coordination, and referral pathways for gender-based violence. I trust that the great leadership at the provincial level will ensure that survivors of violence receive essential social and health services, and they can effectively refer survivors to each other and the justice sector based on survivors’ needs,” President of LWU Aly Vongnobhountham said.

The project was supported by the Lao Women’s Union (LWU), the United Nations Population Fund, and UN-Habitat, with contributions from the Government of Japan. 

Additionally, the establishment of three additional shelters for survivors of violence falls under the implementation of the National Plan of Action on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Children (2021-2026) and is pursuant to the Government of Laos’ International Conference on Population and Development commitment to end gender-based violence by 2030. 

“The importance of this protection shelter is not just the physical infrastructure. Rather, it embodies the notable commitment of the Government of Laos to protect and promote women’s and girls’ rights, dignity, and wellbeing,” Bakhtiyor Kadyrov, UNFPA Representative, said.

“It represents a world where women and girls can have their calls for help answered, their needs met, their resilience built, and their futures free from violence.”