The Lao Women's Union focused on the prevention of human trafficking and other abuses of women and children in Laos during the two-day meeting they hosted in Vientiane.
More than 80 representatives from different government organisations met from September 17-18 to discuss recent developments in laws on the protection of women and children, especially those related to human trafficking.
Participants included delegates from the ministries of education, public health, labour and social welfare, justice, and foreign affairs. Also present were representatives from the Lao Youth Union, the People's Court and the Prosecution Office.
The meeting served to facilitate understanding among participants about the development and implementation of laws defending women, familiarising them with the legal process and ways to help victims, following government policies, said the President of the Lao Women's Union, Ms Sisay Leudedmounsone. She said many Lao women and children were affected by a variety of problems, including domestic violence, estrangement, divorce, rape, prostitution, drug use, human trafficking and exploitation.
A report from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, which the Lao and Thai governments jointly produced from 2001 to 2007, found that about 970 Lao people had been victims of human trafficking, with 835 of these aged under 18, Ms Sisay said.
According to the Consultation and Protection of Women and Children Centre in Vientiane, from September 2002 to August 2007, 14,700 women and children requested help from the centre, resulting in 1,150 legal cases.
Ms Sisay said that between May and July of this year, 36 women and children were victims of human trafficking, 16 people were victims of domestic violence and four rape victims.
Educating the various ministries and organisations in Laos about the laws and how to implement them will help reduce social problems and contribute to socio-economic development, she said. She called on every department concerned to work together to develop and strengthen measures to protect women and children from violence and exploitation, especially human trafficking, so that the both the economy and society would improve in keeping with the law.
The union promotes and monitors the implementation of government and party policies, the constitution and the laws of the country, as they relate to the benefits of women and children. It also promotes education, training and the country's ?three good values' campaign. These promote good citizenship, good development and good cultural families, to create better quality of life for women and children.
The meeting was coordinated by the Lao Women's Union and supported by the UN Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.
Adapted from: Khamphone Syvongxay. "Women's union debates human trafficking." Vientiane Times. 20 September 2007.
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