Women from India, Sri Lanka, and across south east Asia travel willingly to the U.A.E. to work as domestic servants, but some subsequently face conditions of involuntary servitude such as excessive work hours without pay, unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, and physical or sexual abuse.
Similarly, men from the same areas are drawn to the U.A.E. to work in the construction industry, but are often subjected to similar conditions of coercive labor and to debt bondage as they work to pay off recruitment costs sometimes exceeding the equivalent of two years’ wages. Women everywhere from Uzbekistan to Ukraine, Russia to Nigeria, and Afghanistan to China are reportedly trafficked to the U.A.E. for commercial sexual exploitation.
Some foreign women were reportedly recruited to work as secretaries or hotel workers by third country recruiters, but were coerced into prostitution or domestic servitude. The U.A.E. may also serve as a transit country for women trafficked into forced labor in Oman, and men deceived into working involuntarily in Iraq. During the last year, there were no new reports of children identified as trafficked for the purpose of camel jockeying. The government of the U.A.E. does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but is making certain efforts to do so. An active anti-trafficking committee chaired by a cabinet-level official coordinated the U.A.E.’s anti-trafficking efforts.
The government increased prosecutions, convictions, and sentences for sex
trafficking offenders; trained law enforcement officers on anti-trafficking methods; opened a shelter for victims of trafficking; and continued its efforts to support former child camel jockeys and reached agreements to provide compensation to them. Nonetheless, the U.A.E. did not aggressively prosecute or punish acts of trafficking for forced labor, since the rule of wasta over law despite potential of a widespread problem among domestic and low skilled foreign workers.
The U.A.E. has made efforts to prevent trafficking this year. To address the issue of non-payment of wages, which contributes to the debt bondage of some workers, the Ministry of Labor announced in October 2007 that salaries of foreign workers must be paid through an electronic system that can be monitored; this nascent system is increasing, but is not yet uniform. To support child camel jockeys and prevent re-trafficking, the U.A.E. committed approximately $8 million to UNICEF to aid repatriated camel jockeys; separately, the U.A.E. signed Memoranda of Understanding with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan, and Mauritania to establish claims facilities to compensate former child camel jockeys for their injuries. The Emirati government provided $15 million in financial assistance to a global UN conference on trafficking. The government did not make significant efforts to raise public awareness of trafficking issues domestically, such as among Emirati employers of foreign workers. Similarly, the government did not initiate a significant public awareness campaign to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. Dubai authorities shut down two nightclubs notorious for prostitution of foreign nationals. The government did not institute an awareness program targeted for nationals traveling to known child sex tourism destinations abroad. The U.A.E. has not yet ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.
The article, Born Free addresses human trafficking goals in their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2016. There is mention of The Outcome Document that has proposed many goals that it hopes to achieve, including: gender equality, empowering all women and girls, promote sustainable economic growth & adequate employment for all, and promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development. Many developed countries have brushed off human trafficking issues, but with this document, they are forced to talk about these issues that they generally avoid. Achieving this massive goal takes many steps, Carlson and Hilton, for example, have been first movers in their industry, training staff to recognize trafficked victims. And nonprofits such as The Emirates Airline Foundation have partnered with other charities to achieve the purpose of giving children resources to avoid these types of professions and grow to be successful and healthy in their own right.
-Jordan “Drew” Mack