x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

500 runaway UAE maids turn to prostitution

Sharjah Prosecutors handled the cases of 518 housemaids who turned to prostitution after fleeing their sponsors.

SHARJAH // At least 518 housemaids ran away from their sponsors last year and ended up working as prostitutes.

Rashid Ali Majed Al Omran, Sharjah's chief prosecutor, revealed it was an alarming trend among women from Asian and African countries.

He said some women were only posing as maids to get into the country, but others were genuine maids who turned to prostitution because they needed the cash.

"They operate groups. Sometimes those already in prostitution recruit innocent maids from their country with enticements of better pay and savings," said Mr Al Omran. "In all cases we have received we recommended deportation for all the maids that were involved."

In a further 10 cases the maids had not entered the sex industry willingly but were victims of human trafficking, he added.

Mr Al Omran said runaway maids had committed crimes including theft, assault and murder.

Last year, police arrested an Ethiopian who had stolen money and jewellery worth half a million dirhams from her Arab boss.

Some maids also breached housing rules. Inspectors from the Sharjah Department of Naturalisation and Residency last year found 25 runaways living in a one-bedroom apartment.

Many residents say recruitment agencies must do more to guarantee the integrity of maids.

ykakande@thenational.ae