Minors Arrested During Crackdown on Sex Workers, Illegal Entertainment Venues in Vientiane

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Minors Arrested During Crackdown on Sex Workers, Illegal Entertainment Venues in Vientiane
The sex workers after their arrest (photo: Laopost)

On 9 February, authorities in Pak Ngum district, Vientiane Capital, conducted a crackdown on nine entertainment venues, resulting in the arrest of 48 sex workers, including four minors. 

The crackdown was prompted by several violations, including operating beyond permitted hours, playing loud music late at night, and engaging in illicit activities such as the use of drugs, human trafficking, and online gambling.

Among the venues targeted were seven online gaming cafes, one karaoke bar, and one drinking bar. 

The district authorities stated that the loud operations disturbed the peace in the area. All nine owners of the establishments were arrested, with eight of them being women. However, the  police did not disclose the specific actions they planned to take against those arrested.

An anonymous source stated that the arrested sex workers were impoverished individuals from rural areas with limited education. According to the individual, many similar establishments in Vientiane Capital are run by Chinese nationals. The source also highlighted an alleged double standard in treatment between Lao and Chinese entertainment venues. Lao establishments face fines and closure if they operate past midnight, while Chinese-owned venues are allowed to stay open until dawn without penalty, even providing illicit services.

In October of last year, the Department of Information, Culture, and Tourism announced regulations requiring restaurants and entertainment venues to cease playing audio music no later than 11:30 pm. Establishments that persistently violate this rule will be compelled to shut down. If they continue to flout the regulations after being forced to close, their audio equipment will be confiscated, and their owners will be warned and fined.