Seventy-two Lao girls, who were forced into providing sexual services in four karaoke bars in Suphan Buri province of Thailand have been rescued, Thai local media reported last week.
Thai police officers on Wednesday night raided the four establishments which operated as karaoke bars and found them to be fronts for illegal activities, Thailand’s influential newspaper Thai Rath reported.
The girls rescued were between 13 and 20 years old. The four bars were located side by side.
The victims were lured to work at the bars as waitresses but once they arrived they were forced, even tortured, to offer sexual services, according to the Thai newspaper.
The victims contacted the Paveena Foundation for Children and Women requesting help. The foundation’s president Mrs Paveena Hongsakul contacted the police which led to the raid.
Mrs Paveena was quoted as saying that transnational human trafficking is still a serious issue that requires thorough collective action from involved governments to combat.
The newspaper did not, however, mention what the next step would be for the victims and whether or when they would be sent back to their home country.
According to the Social Welfare Department of the Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, after being rescued victims of human trafficking will normally be sent to the Baan Kretakarn protection and skill training centre, where they will be sheltered and interviewed for necessary information including their background and original hometown.
The victims are required to stay at Baan Kretakarn for some time during the investigation process into the perpetrators of human trafficking cases, after which they will be repatriated to Laos under a memorandum of understanding between the Lao and Thai governments.
Since 2001, some 2,217 Lao victims of human trafficking have been resc ued from Thai facilities and repatriated home. Between 75 and 80 percent of these people were under 18 years old and 95 percent were female, according to informa tion from the Social Welfare Department.
Lao nationals falling victim to human trafficking in Thailand have been frequently reported through Thai media, as the neighbouring country has been a common destination for Lao nationals seeking employment opportunities, including those going and working there illegally.
Thai authori ties have registered more than 200,000 Lao workers and around 9,000 family members across Thailand. Lao and Thai officials are working together to verify their nationalities to legalise their status.
Source: Vientiane Times