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Population size: 

7,169,455 [1]

Number of people experiencing domestic abuse each year:

"In the current study, 45% of women surveyed indicated that their spouses have been violent in some form towards them, revealing the high incidence of domestic violence in the areas surveyed." [2]

No research on male victims or other gender identities.

Cost of domestic abuse to the economy each year:

1.7% of GDP [3]

Estimated % change due to COVID-19:

No research.

Current law and policy:

Laos did not join the COMMIT Initiative. However, Laos enacted the Law on Prevention of Violence Against Women and Violence against Children in January 2015, and continues to work to develop its laws and policies, guided by international forums and reviews.

In 2015, the Law on Prevention of Violence against Women and Violence against Children Act was passed complementing the provisions on domestic violence set out in the Law on the Development and Protection of Women 2004. The Law is supplemented by the Penal Law of Laos.

The law states that no custom, tradition or belief can be invoked to justify violence, and include physical, sexual, psychological and economic acts as forms of violence. While most acts listed in the 2015 law are criminalised under the Penal Law, extra penalties are prescribed for marital rape and forced marriage. Additionally, the law obliges the State to support organisation working to combat violence against women and children, by providing funding and resources etc. The law also sets out comprehensive measures to protect and support victims. 

Nevertheless, the law also states that for lesser acts of violence the victim can choose to pursue mediation or ‘re-education’ of the perpetrator, rather than undergoing judicial proceedings. This informal justice system weakens women’s rights, as Village Mediation Units and communities tend to prioritise family unity over the protection of women. 

The government has committed to strengthening the implementation of the law through its 2014-2020 National Action Plan on the Protection and Elimination of Violence against Women and Children.

In addition, in January 2019, the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Commission for the Advancement of Women and Child, and Gender Development Association held the Regional Conference on Strengthening Understanding of the Impact of Gender Norms and Stereotypes on Violence Against Women in the Greater Mekong Sub Region, where experts gathered to discuss how gender-norms impact on gender-based violence and how to best implant the Sustainable Development Goals, taking gender into account. 

Frontline Services:



[1] The World Bank, (1)

Further Reading



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