Laos Brides on Sale

BRIDES FOR SALE: Laos


The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered poverty and economic downturns in the rural heartlands of Laos, fueling an upsurge in the trafficking of women and girls to China.

Poor and illiterate women and girls who are desperate to find jobs are being deceived and lured into the sex trade and false marriages in China.

Police are investigating more than 20 cases of underage Lao girls trafficked into China in 2021.

A billboard in Laos warning young women and girls to ‘Think carefully’ and not fall victim to sex trafficking. 

Statistics

At least 3,000 (reported) Lao women and girls were tricked into moving to China between 2008 and 2018 in spite of government education efforts aimed at stopping the trade.

They offer up to 40 million kips (~USD 4,000$)dowry’ to girls or women in poor families in rural areas, saying all they have to do is go to China and marry Chinese men,” she said

Routes

Laos is a landlocked country and shares borders with China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar. It acts as a transit country for all its neighbors and a source country for brides to China. The lax management at border crossings resulting from the insufficient training of provincial and district-level immigration authorities especially enables illegal entry and exit from Laos. Additionally, Chinese traffickers have begun working with Lao middlemen to facilitate the transit of victims across borders.

In NorthWest Laos the hub of all illegal activities and sex trafficking is the  Golden Triangle SEZ. There is a significant presence of Chinese businessmen and natives in the SEZ and women from all over South East Asia, particularly from Laos, are brought here as brides and then used in prostitution or trafficked to China. 

Commonly used bride trafficking routes from Laos to China
Commonly used bride trafficking transit points

The ordeal of Laotian Women

A 25-year-old woman living in the capital Vientiane was trafficked to China last year, and was later rescued by police and sent back home. Speaking to RFA the young woman said she had been told by a neighbor that she could find good work in China.

She said, “A woman in my village told me that she was married to a Chinese man, and she convinced me to go to China to get a good job. I decided to follow her advice, but in China, I was sold to a Chinese man instead of getting the job, and I was detained in the man’s house for four months. Later, I escaped somehow”.

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