Being one of the many forms of violence against women, trafficking of women violates fundamental rights of women, including having a right to be independent, a right to have a free choice and a reason to live after all. Because of such violence, women are unable to use their powers and freedoms to the full extent; it makes them feel as they occupy a lower position in society. The UAE is a country, to which thousands of women are brought to be employed as domestic servants, however, very often these women end up being involved into sexual exploitation rather than fulfilling their direct duties.
The present study was designed to speak about the trafficking in women and children, which remains a big problem in the United Arab Emirates. The paper will also focus on the measures which are taken to prevent women trafficking and to guarantee that foreign women’s rights are observed in the country.
Human Trafficking in the United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is a federation of seven emirates, is a country with a well-developed economy based on oil and gas trade. Despite the fact that UAE government guarantees its citizens major rights, it failed to guarantee even the most essential rights to foreigners. As it has been mentioned in multiple kinds of research conducted on the UAE, “the United Arab Emirates is a destination country for men, women, and children trafficked from South and East Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East for involuntary servitude and sexual exploitation” . There are no exact statistical shreds of evidence stating the exact number of women that are involved in sexual exploitation in the UAE, however, “an estimated 10,000 women from sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, South and East Asia, Iraq, Iran, and Morocco may be victims of sex trafficking in the U.A.E.” .
Before getting into the core of the problem, it is necessary to define the term human trafficking to gain the better understanding of it. Human trafficking means relocation of people as a result of deceptive persuasion or an involuntary relocation to a foreign country, which usually leads to exploitation of innocent people. A lot of women who come to the UAE from such countries as India, Indonesia, Philippines, Ethiopia and other countries with the sole goal to work as domestic servants and earn some money to bring home “may have their passports confiscated, be denied permission to leave the place of employment in the home, and face sexual or physical abuse by their employers” .
Being an “a horrible crime that uses force, fraud and other terrible means to prey on the most desperate and vulnerable members of society” , human trafficking includes not only exploitation of women and children, but also men, coming from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to the United Arab Emirates. Upon arrival they are supposed to work in construction industry, however, very often they may be forced to repay “recruitment and travel costs that can exceed two years’ wages, sometimes having their wages denied for months at a time” .
As it has been stated above, the majority of women, coming to work in the UAE, are employed as domestic servants. Thus, the following statistical evidence shows the number of foreign workers in the UAE by nationality and sex.
Statistical evidence is taken from the paper by Rima Sabban, who investigated the migration of women in the United Arab Emirates. However, the author hesitates that all men and especially women are “legally employed in the domestic service, or whether they could also represent workers who entered the country with a visa to work as domestics, but who are in practice employed in other sectors, including the sex industry . As it can be seen from the Table 1, which represents the countries with the highest number of men and women working in the UAE, the majority of workers are female, excluding Pakistan, from where most men are going to the UAE to work, and India, from where both men and women are engaged in domestic labor in the UAE.
Everybody is aware that human trafficking continues to exist, and the UAE government is not an exception. But why does it happen? Despite the fact the UAE government has made rather significant efforts to guarantee fundamental human rights to its people; however, it is unable to control human trafficking in the country.
The UAE government did issue certain laws and regulations on this matter, including a federal law that acknowledged the use of “persons under age 18 for camel racing” ; it established “human rights and social support offices that furnish assistance to female and child victims of abuse; however, the government is generally viewed as ineffective in protecting women from abuse” . Though the constitution of the UAE provides people with freedom of speech, it is only a formality, because indeed it is very hard to find any information concerning human trafficking in the UAE. Thus, lack of legal protection and public awareness as a result of scanty freedom of speech, are main reasons supporting the existence of human trafficking and women exploitation in the UAE.
There is no doubt that this problem needs to be addressed not only at the international level, as multiple organizations have already been created to protect women rights and issued certain important documents, including “The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”, the “Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women” proclaimed on the 20th of December 1993, “the Cairo Programme of Action”, “Millennium Declaration” proclaimed by the UN in 2000 and others, but also at the national level.
Speaking about the solution to this problem, it is necessary to emphasize the importance of finding ways to solve the problem with human trafficking in the UAE. For this reason, the UAE government has to implement effective measures to eliminate illegal work of men and women inside of the country. Such measures should include, for example, introducing new ways of passport and visa control on the border, a thorough examination of recruiting documents, which should prove in what kind of job a person will be involved, elimination of the number of young women and girls coming into the country, etc.
As it has been stated above, trafficking in women, children, and men is a direct violation of basic human rights, which should be urgently addressed and eliminated. There is no secret that human trafficking is a multimillion-dollar business, from which hundreds of people become very wealthy, while others lose even those little things they used to have before being involved in exploitation. However, human life and dignity can be hardly called as something “little,” as they are the most valuable things we are granted.
Sabban, R. “United Arab Emirates: Migrant Women In The United Arab Emirates”. 20 Nov. 2006. www.ilo.ch/public/english/employment/gems/download/swmuae.pdf
Sandul, I. “East European Women Trapped in Sex Slavery”. The Washington Times, March 11, 2001.
“Country Profile: United Arab Emirates (UAE)”. 20 Nov. 2006. <www.lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/profiles/UAE.pdf>
“A “Horrible Crime” The Washington Times. July 30, 2003.
“United Arab Emirates”. 20 Nov. 2006. <http://uae.usembassy.gov/2006_trafficking_in_persons_report.html>
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