Prostitution, servitude and forced labour are the key trades that represent modern-day slavery – human trafficking, the most diverse nature of which can be seen in the Greater Mekong region.
Women accounted for 55 to 60 percent of all human trafficking cases reported between 2007 to 2010.
A recent study commissioned by Governments of the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT) in Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam reveals that a flourishing human trade – involving men, women, children and families – exists within the region itself. The report emphasises that survivors of human trafficking are not provided ample support to help them reintegrate into their communities.
The importance of the study can be gauged by the fact that, the Greater Mekong region represents a very diverse pattern of human trafficking cases. Representative of the wider picture, the region has seen both internal and cross-border trafficking handled by both highly organised and small-scale traffickers with the involvement of both formal and informal recruitment mechanisms.
Thailand is a major centre of human trade, with men, women and children who find their way here from countries like Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. Women and children get forced into prostitution and domestic servitude. Men are forced into labour to work in sweatshops, fishing boats, construction sites, plantations and farms. Girls and young women from Vietnam, meanwhile, are pushed into sex trade and virginity selling in Cambodia.
Children are forced into small trades like selling flowers on the streets of big cities in the region or even end up begging.