x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Human trafficking ring from India operating in UAE 'since 1979'

Ring using women from India was operating since 1979, police say.

DUBAI // The findings of an investigation into the alleged trafficking of women from Kerala to Sharjah will be submitted to the Indian Embassy in the UAE by police in Kochi.

The report is from the court-ordered investigation into the case of Sheeja Aziz, who escaped from a Sharjah sex-slave ring with the help of the Indian Embassy in 2007.

A member of the investigating team yesterday said three people had been arrested in India in connection with Ms Aziz's case, including SB, a 45-year-old woman who was described as the operation's mastermind.

SB lured impoverished women by promising them jobs in supermarkets or as housemaids, then forced them into prostitution, said V Ajith, the assistant commissioner of police in Kerala.

"She said she rented a studio flat in Sharjah and used to keep the women there, charging between Dh300 and Dh500 per customer," Mr Ajith said.

He said SB had been running the business since 1979.

"Two people, including SB, are still in jail and her daughter, who was also involved in the case, made bail and was released," said Mr Ajith.

He said police had also collected details of people in the UAE connected to the case and submitted them to the Indian government so they could inform the embassy and authorities in the Emirates.

"There are so many people involved in the case," Mr Ajith said. "Names and telephone numbers of those people have been collected for further action."

Saeed Al Ghafli, the undersecretary of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking in the UAE, said victims came from different countries including India and Indonesia.

"Some of the victims come here for work and are sexually abused, while others run away from their job and are exploited," Mr Al Ghafli said.

He said the committee was focusing on improving public awareness and training government officials dealing with the issue.

"The number of human trafficking cases going to the court has been increasing steadily," Mr Al Ghafli said.

Ten cases went to the court in 2007, 20 in 2008, 42 in 2009 and 41 last year.

"We have a strategic plan for all the national bodies on how to combat human trafficking," he said. "From our evaluation the UAE is doing a good work in this field."

Mr Al Ghafli said four shelters for victims of human trafficking had been opened in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah.

"There are plans to open more shelters and rehabilitate the victims," he said.

The Indian ambassador could not be reached for comment.