Vientiane (AsiaNews) - Laotian and Thai immigration officials plan to work together to stop the trafficking of women for the sex trade business.
Radio Free Asia reported that the two Southeast Asian nations stepped up their crackdown4 February, when Thai officials turned away 100 unaccompanied female teenagers from Vientiane prefecture, who were trying to cross the Lao-Thai-Friendship Bridge that spans the two nations' Mekong River border.
Officials asked the girls for their papers and interrogated them about their reasons to be in Thailand. In view of their vague answers, they realised that the underage females were victims of trafficking.
This comes as the US State Department noted in its latest annual report (2014) on human trafficking that Thailand was ranked among "tier 3" countries, i.e. those "whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so". The standards are based on a US law passed in 2000 called the 'Trafficking Victims Protection Act' (TVPA).
"The majority of the trafficking victims within Thailand - tens of thousands of victims, by conservative estimates - are migrants from Thailand's neighbouring countries who are forced, coerced, or defrauded into labour or exploited in the sex trade," the report said.
Recently, underage Laotians were caught working in the Thai sex trade. Local papers reported that last month Thai authorities rescued 72 girls and young women, aged 13 to 20, working as prostitutes in four karaoke bars in Song Phi Nong District (central province of Suphanburi).
According to the Laotian Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, more than 2,200 victims of human trafficking have been rescued from Thai brothels and similar structures since 2001. About 75-80 per cent of them were under the age of 18 and 95 per cent were women.