Three men were recently arrested in Dubai for their involvement in a human trafficking case.
It all started when a 17-year-old girl had been approached by her "friend" in Bangladesh, who told her she's guaranteed a job at a massage parlor in Dubai. However, upon arrival to the Emirati city in January, three men, also Bangladeshi nationals, locked her up and forced her into prostitution, according to Gulf News.
The men welcomed her at the airport, arranged a passport for the victim in which she appeared older, and then took her to a two-bedroom flat in Bur Dubai. Three other women were inside the apartment.
"They told me that I will work as a prostitute," the teen said.
After refusing to do so, one man told her that she must work to repay them for the expenses made to bring her to the UAE.
"He told me that I needed to pay back Dh13,000 [$3,539]. I kept crying and was sick for a week. Later they forced me to have sex with a customer for Dh80 [$21]. They locked the doors at night so I couldn't escape," she said, according to Gulf News.
In April, one "customer" gave her the phone number of a police officer in the city so that she could report her case. Once she reported the case, the police raided the flat, rescued the girl, and arrested the men. Two of them have since admitted to the charges against them. However, one failed to attend court.
The three men were charged with "human trafficking and running a brothel." The other girls working as prostitutes were also arrested.
The trial has been delayed until July 8.
Not the first case of human trafficking in the UAE
In 2017, a human trafficking and prostitution ring - involving a 27-year-old Bangladeshi security guard and other unknown persons - was busted after one woman sent her brother a message via WhatsApp.
The woman, identified as a Kyrgyz national, was one of two who were lured to Dubai after the security guard offered them jobs as domestic helpers and forced into prostitution shortly after being picked up from the airport. They were only able to escape after the police busted the ring with the help of the message one of the women was able to send to her brother in her home country, Khaleej Times reported.
Emirati human trafficking laws are strict
Emirati law stipulates a minimum fine of 100,000 dirhams ($27,223) and a minimum of five years in prison for human trafficking. The penalty could reach a life sentence if the victim is a child or a person with special needs.
According to the law, "human trafficking includes all forms of sexual exploitation, engaging others in prostitution, servitude, forced labor, organ-trafficking, coerced service, enslavement, begging and quasi-slavery practices."
The UAE has been working to combat human trafficking through legislative amendments as well as awareness programs. In 2015, the Dubai Judicial Institute and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime launched an anti-trafficking diploma, which teaches employees investigative skills, along with methods to protect and rehabilitate victims. As a result, the number of human trafficking cases in the country dropped from 25 to 16 between 2016 and 2017, according to The National.