UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Selling immigrants into sex slavery
She came all the way from Eastern Europe to treat her daughter's asthma. Instead, once in Dubai, the 27-year-old Moldavian woman found out that she was lured into the city to literally be sold as a sex slave.
Her Ukrainian friend had actually planned to offer her to a local for nearly $8,000.
A few days ago, this case was brought to a court in Dubai, where the 36-year-old Ukrainian broker was charged with sexual exploitation, according to media reports.
But this is likely only the tip of the iceberg of human trafficking to the Persian Gulf.
Many people from poor Asian and East European countries go to the oil-rich region to work as domestic servants, labor workers or secretaries but find themselves actually forced into involuntary servitude and sexual practices, according to human rights organizations.
It's rather recurrent to hear stories of men and women from these areas bought by pimps and coerced into prostitution until they pay their "debts." The sad reality of sex trafficking is the other side of the coin for a region portrayed as a hub for trade and economic prosperity.
An extensive Feb. 23 report on the topic by Reuters' Lin Noueihed described one victim's misery:
Aysha sold her wedding gold to pay traffickers $200 to find her and a cousin jobs in Dubai. A world away from her village in Uzbekistan, she was forced to work in a disco and expected to offer sex. Beaten by her Uzbek boss when she shooed prospective clients away, she and her cousin fled and hid in airport toilets for two days, surviving on tap water.
Some Gulf countries are becoming aware of this problem and have recently drafted stiff laws to combat trade in humans. Last month, in the UAE, officials promised to build shelters for victims of human trafficking.
— Raed Rafei in Beirut
Photo: Amnesty International activists wearing T-shirts reading "End modern slavery" protest against human trafficking near the Ministry of Justice in Athens on March 7, a day before International Women's Day. Credit: LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images