Across the Borders : A Study of Counter-Trafficking Work in Lao PDR

University essay from Växjö universitet/Institutionen för samhällsvetenskap

Abstract: In the wake of state borders becoming more porous the flows of people crossing them in search for opportunities have increased. This trend is evident in Greater Mekong Sub region where the economic boom of Thailand attracts thousands of migrant workers every year from neighboring countries making Thai industries dependent on the cheap labor. Alongside these developments, human trafficking, the slave trade of our time, has emerged as an increasing challenge. In Lao PDR the historic ties to Thailand make for a long history of cross-border relations and flows. With the relative economic differences, labor migration to the richer neighbor is becoming an accepted way of improving family conditions. However, the risks involved, exploitation and trafficking, are not widely known in the communities. Counter-trafficking work in Lao PDR has been evolving over the passed 10 years. This study has, through an ethnographic approach to organizational work combined with reflections and observations, tried to create a picture of the counter-trafficking work on the ground. Using semi-structured interviews projects, aims and assumptions could be derived and three main problems identified: Trafficking is hard to separate from labor migration, thus making it hard to effectively target; there is a dissonance between perceived and actual inter-sector communication, and; the trafficking sector is isolated from other sectors as dialogue across sector borders appear to be nonexistent. Reasons given for these discords mainly came down to dependency on donors and a need to meet their requirements. Essentially it seems that organizations working with this open-border phenomenon are rigidly closed to each other.

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