Mekong Trafficking Report Uncovers Mental Health, Abuse Issues

Thailand – A study launched in Bangkok today reveals that nearly half of people in post-trafficking services in the Greater Mekong region have suffered physical and/or sexual abuse and one in six have contemplated suicide within two weeks of entering care.

The study, commissioned and funded by the Anesvad Foundation, with additional support from the IOM Development Fund and the UK Economic and Social Research Council, was carried out by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and IOM.

The study, which interviewed over 1,100 survivors, aims to fill critical gaps in the body of knowledge on the health risks and consequences of human trafficking in order to improve protection and care services.

The ground-breaking report provides findings on the health risks and physical and psychological consequences of men, women and children in post-trafficking services in Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam.

It includes recommendations to national governments and regional bodies to improve health protection and response mechanisms for trafficked persons.

Key findings include:

  • Men, women and children were trafficked into three main sectors: sex work (29.9 per cent), fishing (25.0 per cent) and factory work (12.3 per cent).
  • Nearly half of trafficked persons experienced physical and/or sexual abuse while trafficked.
  • Excessive working hours were common, with 67.5 per cent of trafficking survivors reported working seven days per week and an average of 13.8 hours per day. Fishermen reported an average of 18.8 hours per day.
  • Hazardous working and living conditions are near-universal among survivors.
  • Serious injuries are prevalent with one in five (21.9 per cent) survivors reported sustaining at least one serious work-related injury. Seven people reported losing a body part.
  • Psychological distress and probable disorders were prevalent. Some 59.7 per cent of survivors had symptoms indicative of depression, 35.6 per cent symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 41.9 per cent symptoms of an anxiety disorder.

The report recommends that medical care should be an explicit component of all counter-trafficking policies and included in any package of care for trafficking survivors.

“Trafficking in human beings is a gross violation of human rights that often involves extreme exploitation and abuse,” said Jeff Labovitz, IOM’s Thailand Chief of Mission. “People are trafficked for various forms of exploitation, most frequently into low-skilled labour sectors and for forced labour and sexual exploitation. In these circumstances, trafficked persons are exposed to a multitude of health risks, including violence, deprivation and serious occupational hazards.”

To download the report, please go to:

For more information please contact:

Jeffrey Labovitz
IOM Thailand
Tel: +668 9890 8702


Brett Dickson
IOM Cambodia
Tel: +855 12 222 132


Dr. Leul Mekonnen
Tel: +85512900131


David Knight
IOM Viet Nam
Tel: + 844 3736 6258 (Ext. 106)