Thai police free Lao teenager after report of employer’s sexual abuse

Thai police free Lao teenager after report of employer’s sexual abuse Police help a Lao woman, whose face has been blurred by the source to protect her identity, climb over the wall at her employer’s house in Udon Thani province, Thailand, March 3, 2024.

Police in northeastern Thailand rescued an 18-year-old Lao woman after they were told she was sexually abused by her male employer and was being prevented from leaving the home where she worked as a caregiver.

The woman worked at the home in Udon Thani province for about six months and wasn’t allowed to go outside for the last five months, her brother, who asked for anonymity for security reasons, told Radio Free Asia, a news service affiliated with BenarNews.

She was working legally taking care of the elderly mother of her Thai employer. The employer – a retired doctor – had confiscated her passport, work permit and electronic communication devices, but last week she was able to contact her brother, her brother said.

“She told me that her employer always sexually abused her,” he told RFA. “She cannot stand this anymore and decided to tell me, and then I told the police.”

On Sunday, the woman climbed a wall at the home to reach Thai police officers who had arrived outside along with her brother.

“The Thai employer wouldn’t open the house gate when we arrive,” the brother said. “I wanted to make sure she was in a safe situation, so I told her to climb the wall to come out.”

Police interview a Lao woman who escaped from her employer’s house in Udon Thani province, Thailand, March 3, 2024. [Khaosod]

Udon Thani provincial police told RFA that they are investigating the accusations against the retired doctor. No arrests or official accusations have been made, police Lt. Col. Singharaj Keokeutmi said.

The retired doctor is a former Thai government employee, according to Opas Karnkawinpong, the permanent secretary at Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health. Udon Thani is about 60 km (37 miles) south of Laos’ Thanaleng border crossing.

Young migrant workers

RFA was unable to reach the Lao woman for her comments. For safety and investigative reasons, the Thai police have asked her to stop speaking to the media.

However, earlier this week she told Thai media that the retired doctor sexually abused her from the beginning of her employment. She went to the provincial hospital on Monday for a checkup, the brother said.

An estimated 230,000 Laotians do domestic work, construction and farming throughout Thailand, according to Thailand’s Ministry of Labor.

Thailand’s aging population will bring more job possibilities for young migrant workers from Laos in the coming years, a senior Thai labor official said in December during a conference on migration in Bangkok.

That number will likely increase as young Laotians leave for Thailand’s higher paying jobs as Laos’ economy struggles with inflation, a devalued currency and low pay.


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