Pakse, located in the southern province of Champasak, is the third most populated city in Laos. It has a population of 120,000 inhabitants.
In 2002, the Lao-Nippon bridge opened, crossing the Mekong River between Pakse and Thailand, to foster tourism and economic growth. As the city of Pakse is so closely located to the Mekong River, which is one of longest rivers in the world, the city is vulnerable to floods.
Slowly, Pakse is growing economically, however, the city is still marked by poverty and widespread violence against children.
Since 1997, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Pakse.
Around 9% of people living in the province of Champasak, where Pakse is located, are affected by poverty. There has been a decrease of poverty in the last five years. However, children are most affected by poverty. Indeed, children growing up in households with social and economic hardships, do not get the same education opportunities as other children. To illustrate, only 52% of children aged 11 to 14 go to school in Champasak.
Children are also most affected by food scarcity, with 25% of children in the province suffering from stunting, which is a measurement of low height for age. This is because, over the years, children do not get the food they need to grow healthily.
More than a third of women (34%) and men (35%) experienced some form of violence during childhood. More specifically, 1 in 7 women and 1 in 6 men experienced at least one form of physical violence before the age of 18. Around 22% of girls and 36% of boys experienced their first incident of sexual abuse when they were 13 years old or younger.
These are only a few of the heartbreaking numbers reported in Laos. One of the causes of this violence is sometimes attributed to the fact that 42% of adults in Laos believe that physical punishment is necessary to raise a child.