x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

'Mother' of girl prostitutes typifies intricacies of cases

A woman was cleared in April by the Federal Supreme Court of charges related to trafficking two teenage girls - who were forced into prostitution - because she had legally adopted them in her home country.

ABU DHABI // In a case that illustrates the complexity of human trafficking prosecutions, a woman was cleared in April by the Federal Supreme Court of charges related to trafficking two teenage girls - who were forced into prostitution - because she had legally adopted them in her home country. The 57-year-old woman, identified as B, told prosecutors she entered the country with her two daughters on April 15, 2007, after her husband died. At 9pm on April 30, 2009, police stopped the two girls outside a hotel in Umm al Qaiwain and took them to the station for interrogation because they did not have any identity documents.

The teenagers told police they had been working as prostitutes for a year to support their parents, who were ill. They said they gave the money to their older sister, who also worked as a prostitute. They also told police they were working without the knowledge of their parents. Forensic reports confirmed they had been engaged in sexual activity. But a DNA test showed the woman they said was their mother was not. She was arrested and charged with forging immigration documents and human trafficking. The girls have not been charged with a crime and are being cared for at a shelter in Dubai.

B told prosecutors she had adopted the two girls from an orphanage in their home country when they were five and seven. She said her husband had died and she had to leave for the UAE to live with her eldest son. She obtained passports for them as her own daughters. She denied forging the documents or knowing the girls were involved in prostitution. She told prosecutors that they told her they were going to attend wedding parties of their friends. The man she said was her son was not questioned because he fled the country following the arrest of the two teenagers.

Adoption as known in the West is prohibited in Islam (the Islamic alternative is guardianship), but is accepted in a few Muslim countries, including the girls' home country. The Federal Supreme Court acquitted her of forging documents, a state security charge, ruling that although adoption is illegal in the UAE, documents issued in her home country were legitimate. Court officials in Umm al Qaiwain could not say whether the woman was still facing trafficking charges in the emirate.

hhassan@thenational.ae