x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Police free women from traffickers

Three Indian men have been arrested for allegedly imprisoning four women in a flat in Al Muraqabat and forcing them into prostitution.

DUBAI // Three Indian men have been arrested for allegedly imprisoning four women in a flat in Al Muraqabat and forcing them into prostitution, in the emirate's second known case of human trafficking this year. Col Khalil al Mansouri, director of Dubai CID, said officers rescued the women, one from India and the other two from Bangladesh, several days after they arrived in the country and were locked in the flat. They are all said to be in good health.

"It started from when they were back home where the ring of traffickers made them believe they were going to come to Dubai to start a decent job," he said. Col Mansouri identified the suspects as SS, KK and AS, all Asians. He said police were acting on a tip-off, but did not disclose further details about how the suspects were captured or how the women were rescued. They are being cared for by the Dubai Charity Association, a non-governmental organisation that provides emergency help to people. In many cases of human trafficking, gangs recruit women in developing countries with promises of good jobs abroad such as as nannies or shop clerks. When the women arrive in the country, however, the gangs take away their passports and force them into prostitution by threatening or beating them, or worse.

"The suspects take advantage of the fact that the girls are in a strange country and that they do not speak any English or Arabic. In the majority of cases found, those involved came from Asian countries such as India and Bangladesh or from Eastern Europe," said Capt Ahmed bin Hadiba, head of the police department's anti-human trafficking section. Police say this is the second group of suspects arrested for human trafficking in Dubai this year. They revealed that last month officers arrested two men who were allegedly running a brothel in Satwa.

The suspects were holding six women, two Bangladeshis, two Indians, a Filipina and an Indonesian, against their will. The latest arrests also follow a directive by Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, the head of the UAE National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, last week to police and judicial authorities to vigorously pursue suspected human traffickers. Capt bin Hadiba said Dubai Police made arrests in 16 cases involving human trafficking last year.

"There were 16 cases last year and 49 suspects charged. Most victims are between 23 and 28 years of age, but we had younger women that were 19 and 20 years old. "The women don't receive any of the money. They are kept imprisoned and the doors will always be locked. They are not allowed to go out and someone is always put on watch." Also yesterday, two Indian men appeared before the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance in connection with a raid on a brothel in an Umm Suqeim villa in July 2007.

The main suspect, identified as SB, 40, pleaded not guilty to slave trading, illegally detaining 11 women and running a brothel. His co-defendant, a cook at the villa, another Indian identified only as HQ, 57, also pleaded not guilty to criminal complicity. According to prosecutors, SB, confessed to receiving money from customers and doing the bookkeeping. However, he claimed that another man he identified only as Manoj owned and ran the brothel, and said he was paid Dh1,000 (US$272) a month to help manage it. He testified that Manoj brought women to the villa and forced them to work as prostitutes.

Police became aware of the brothel when one of the women, an Indonesian national, escaped through an open window and sought refuge with her consulate in Dubai. She was taken to police, filed a report, and then guided officers to the villa where the other 10 women were being held captive. There, they arrested HQ, the 10 women, most of whom had run away from their sponsors, and an undisclosed number of customers. They also recovered a book of accounts and some cash.

The case has been adjourned until Feb 16 to allow the defence time to prepare its case. The head of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, said the charity last year helped dozens of victims of human trafficking. "In the last year and a half we have received less than 50 women and children victims of trafficking," she said. "They come from many different parts of the world, but they all have the same story. In our shelter we have high numbers from Uzbekistan and Bangladesh but some come from Iraq, Syria, Morocco."

rabubaker@thenational.ae