UAE: Seeking illegal massages could lead to blackmail, jail for a year

Dubai Police seized 5.9 million business cards and 870 people in connection with these illegal activities over the last 15 months



by

Waheed Abbas

Published: Sun 21 Aug 2022, 4:17 PM

Last updated: Mon 22 Aug 2022, 12:56 PM

People seeking cheap massage from illegal centres could land in serious trouble. Therefore, residents should seek services only from licensed operators.

Under the UAE laws, not just the illegal massage centre operators face imprisonment and financial penalty, but also the person who is availing of massage services. The latter will also jailed for a year under Article 356 of the UAE Penal Code.

Authorities in Dubai issue warnings and advisories repeatedly, asking residents and visitors to approach licensed masseurs for the services to avoid being duped by the criminals.

There have been a few instances again in the past few months where people were assaulted and robbed by illegal massage centre operators.

Since these centres are illegally operated, criminals rob and assault customers physically. They also sometimes make objectionable videos of victims and threaten to share them on social media.

The matters usually come to light only after victims report the matter to the police.

These illegal massage centres allure customers through the distribution of massage centre cards in communities as well as through online advertisements, which target thrifty customers with vulgar photographs and videos in their advertisements.

On Sunday, Dubai Police announced that 5.9 million business cards and 870 people were seized in 15 months in connection with the unlicensed massage services and their illegal advertisements.

In October last year, three women were jailed for three years by the Dubai Criminal Court for robbing and assaulting a man after luring him to their apartment with a massage offer.

They had also been fined Dh284,000, each, followed by deportation.

Similarly, a woman was jailed for a year for assaulting a man and robbing him of over Dh28,000 after alluring him with a massage offer.

As per legal regulations, Dubai Economy and Tourism Department is the competent authority to issue trade licenses, while Dubai Health Authority is responsible for licensing massage facilities and medical spas. All spa massage therapists must have two years of experience, a basic first aid certification, and a training programme that is equivalent to 600 accredited hours.

Penalty

Navandeep Matta, senior associate and legal compliance, Century Maxim International, says the penalty imposed on the centres for violating the norms of the trade and indulging in illegal activities is Dh2,000 for the first time and the shop is shut down for a week.

“If the same centre is caught for the second time, the fine is increased to Dh5,000 and the shop is forced to close down for two weeks. However, depending upon the situation the Dubai Police can arrest a person under Federal Law. No.3 of 1987 concerning the Penal Code,” added Matta.

In addition, if the massage parlour is involved in distributing flyers carrying pornographic or semi-pornographic images, the police officer can arrest a person involved in this act under Article 361 of the UAE Penal Code. The violator can be imprisoned for a maximum of one month and up to a Dh100,000 fine or either of the two.

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Furthermore, the massage parlour or its agent can also face the law for false or misleading information.

“If any person on a pretext of giving massage entices, induces, or tempts, by any means a male or female to commit debauchery or prostitution or assisted to this end, shall be punished to a jail sentence and a fine under Article 363 of UAE Penal Code. A person who is availing massage services from an unregulated/unauthorised person can be penalised and could face imprisonment for a term not less than one year under Article 356 of the UAE Penal Code,” added Matta.

- waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com


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