Men luring Lao girls abroad under false pretences

LAOS - Lao women have fallen victim to fraudsters masquerading as matchmaking service providers offering a life with a foreign husband, according to a senior government official.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs employee, who did not wish to be named, said the mostly-uneducated women had been lured into leaving the country to marry and live with foreign men.

The women were introduced to foreign men who claimed they wanted to get married. However, once the victims arrived in their supposed-fiancées' countries, they were passed onto to other groups. The people responsible for the service were paid by unidentified parties.

For instance, cases have been reported of girls fleeing to the Lao Embassy in the Republic of Korea seeking help to return home.

The official said cases occasionally surfaced, but he could not confirm if the incidences were carried out by human trafficking groups.

Cases of a similar nature had also been reported among Lao girls in the northern provinces, who had been lured to China but returned home safely.

The official suspected that large numbers of Lao girls had fallen victim to transnational human traffickers, saying many had lost contact with relatives at home since their departure.

Uneducated Lao girls are vulnerable to such criminal elements as many believe marrying foreign men will enable them to lead a financially-secure life abroad.

Such women often have limited abilities to keep in touch with their family in Laos .

The official said some Lao women had also gotten engaged to foreign men in Laos without undergoing the legal procedures required for official marriage.

Officials have warned anyone planning on marrying a person from another country to ensure the legal process is followed so they are properly protected by the law.

The official said many girls did not follow the legal marriage process because they considered the procedure as complicated and time-consuming.