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21 Jan 2022

Max Avary & Roseanne Gerin, Radio Free Asia

Lao women held by Chinese-run casino plead for help

18 January 2021

Three Lao women say they are being held against their will in the Chinese-run Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in northwestern Laos, where they came to find work as “chat girls” in a call center for Kings Romans Casino.


The women said that they want to return to their home provinces, but each owes 10,000 yuan ($1,600) to their employers plus expenses for food and accommodations. Their employers will not let them leave the premises until they repay their debts, they said.

Chat girls talk to casino customers by texting them over web applications like Line, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and have to meet a sales quota determined by their employer. But there are hundreds of Lao women doing the same job, which makes it hard for any one of them to meet the targets they are given.

Faced with debts they can’t pay many are at risk of being forced into prostitution.