Gangs that force maids into prostitution under scanner

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Gangs that force maids into prostitution under scanner

Dubai - UAE to launch awareness drive among recruitment agencies.


Amira Agarib

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Published: Sun 25 Oct 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 26 Oct 2015, 1:01 AM

Gangs are exploiting domestic workers and maids and forcing them into prostitution after they arrive in the UAE, a top Dubai Police official has said.
To combat this scourge, the UAE is launching a campaign to spread awareness among recruitment agencies in the country, Dr Mohammed Al Murr, Director of the Dubai Police Human Rights Department, said on Saturday.
In most cases, Dr Al Murr said, maids are recruited with promises of good jobs and significant salaries. Once in the UAE, the women are tortured and forced into prostitution, he said. In some cases, visas were obtained from sponsors, but the maids were taken to brothels, prompting the sponsors to inform local authorities.
In other cases, gang members help victims abscond from their homes. When this happens, victims are too frightened to inform authorities and risk being found in violation of the UAE residency laws. In many cases, their passports are confiscated.
Dr Al Murr said sexual abuse is a common characteristic in human trafficking cases. The UAE does not penalise victims of human trafficking, he said.
The number of human trafficking cases reported in the country has decreased, but Dubai is working to eradicate this crime from the country.
Dr Sultan Al Jamal, Director of the Human Trafficking Monitoring Centre of the human rights department, said the campaign will continue for two years, after which "its success will be evaluated".
The programme will include visits to 111 recruitment offices in Dubai and distribution of pamphlets in nine languages among those arriving at Dubai's airports. Additionally, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs will help spread awareness among domestic workers.
Saeed Al Ghafli, Assistant Undersecretary for Federal National Council Affairs, said the campaign is part of a national strategy to combat human trafficking and to prevent "debt slavery", in which workers are forced to work off their debts to recruitment agencies that bring them to the UAE.
According to Colonel Abdul Rahman bin Shafi, Director of the General Department of Organised Crime at the Dubai Police, in 2012, authorities recorded 37 human trafficking victims, of which 13 were maids. In 2013, this number dropped to 13 victims, including four maids. Last year, only six cases were reported, of which three were maids. The average age of victims was 21 years old.

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