x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Hairdresser 'lured two women into sex work'

Prosecutors allege that a Filipina promised two women jobs in the UAE, then seized their passports and demanded money after they arrived.

DUBAI // A Filipina hairdresser forced two women from her homeland into the sex trade after luring them to Dubai with a promise that she would find them legitimate jobs, a court heard yesterday. 

M J, 25, told prosecutors that a friend put her in contact with A L, 33, who promised her employment at a supermarket. A L requested Dh6,000 to cover air fare, visa and housing expenses for the first two months.

M J said she sent a copy of her passport to A L but did not have enough money to pay for her relocation costs. 

She said she was assured by A L that her expenses would be covered and that M J could repay her when she started working. M J said A L then sent her visa and air ticket, which she used to travel to Dubai on April 23. 

The court heard that after meeting M J at the airport, AL took her to a one-bedroom apartment and told her that she owed Dh20,000. MJ said she protested, saying the agreed amount was far lower, but AL insisted she had to pay the money back before she could start work.

M J said that A L then told her she could raise the money by working in the sex trade. 

M J said she refused and asked to be returned to the Philippines but A L shouted at her, seized her passport and demanded the money. Another Filipina, A J, 25, told prosecutors she had been offered a job as a sales clerk at a shopping centre before being told she was expected to be a sex worker. She alleged that AL warned her not to go to the police because she had connections.

A J told prosecutors she was forced to work as a prostitute for two weeks, earning between Dh300 and Dh700 per client. 

The alleged victims managed to escape on May 7 after a customer fell asleep as they gave him a massage. A L denied the charges yesterday in the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance. The case was adjourned to November 8. 

balqabbani@thenational.ae