x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Woman denies prostitution charge, tells Abu Dhabi court she was forced into industry

A woman who claims she was forced into selling herself into prostitution by two convicted human traffickers is charged with prostitution.

ABU DHABI // A woman who claims she was forced into the sex industry by her sponsor and two convicted human traffickers has been charged with prostitution.

SL, 20, from Morocco, told the Criminal Court today that she reported the three people to police on two separate occasions, but was ignored and instead, charged with prostitution.

She said she arrived in Abu Dhabi last October under the sponsorship of an Egyptian man, but that when she arrived he handed her over to a married couple.

She said the couple took her passport and mobile phone and forced her into prostitution, sending her to apartments, farms and sometimes islands in a private car, and that sometimes the woman would accompany her on the trips and prostitute herself as well.

At this point, Chief Justice Sayed Abdulbaseer, interjected, asking: "He (her husband) knows she's bad like that?"

The woman replied: "He knows and he gets her more customers and gets loads of money."

She continued that she was not allowed to communicate with the outside world, except on very rare occasions when they would allow her short, supervised phone calls. She said the husband would sleep by the front door of the apartment to prevent her running away.

On one occasion she managed to get past him and went to the police station to report the couple.

But, she said, the police did not believe her and her sponsor was called. He then offered to marry her or give her Dh50,000 and send her back to Morocco.

She was then taken to another house and another woman was put in charge of her. She was told that if she complained to police once more the couple would show police videos of her with her clients.

She said she confided in a client, but that the client informed her boss and she was then beaten and locked in a bathroom.

Eventually she escaped for a second time and went back to the police station, but officers said she did not have evidence for her allegations and took her into custody instead.

The court heard that the married couple she is accusing have previously been jailed for human trafficking offences.

The woman denied a charge of prostitution. The case was adjourned to March 25.

aalkhoori@thenational.ae