UAE’s Disregard for Human Trafficking: Uncovering the Beneficiaries. Sexual exploitation is a form of human trafficking. This involves the abuse of a person’s sexuality for the benefit of another person or entity. Sexual exploitation can take various forms, such as prostitution, pornography, sex tourism or forced marriage. Sex trafficking is one of the most profitable illegal enterprises, after drugs and counterfeits goods. The ILO estimates that 68% of trafficking victims worldwide are exploited via forced labour. On the other hand, only 22% are victims of forced sexual exploitation. But the profits from these forms of trafficking are reversed. Nearly two-thirds of global profits ($99 billion) come from sex exploitation, while $51 billion results from all other forms of forced labor.
In the Emirates context, sex trafficking and sexual exploitation are deeply intertwined with economic gains. The link between sexual exploitation and economic profit stems from the high demand for commercial sex services. This is driven by tourists, expatriates, even some locals with disposable income. But also by some of the migrant workers looking for cheap sex in the hidden, underground parts of the main cities in the UEA. Especially in Dubai, which is known as a hub for sex tourism and entrainment. This demand creates a lucrative market for traffickers, who exploit vulnerable individuals, particularly women and girls, for their financial gain.
Some individuals and/or entities (e.g., traffickers, recruitment agencies, brokers, sponsors, employers, and intermediaries) are the primary beneficiaries of the sex trafficking industry. They operate as organized criminal networks, exploiting the vulnerabilities and desperation of their victims. They use various tactics such as deception, coercion, and physical force to trap victims in a life of sexual slavery. These perpetrators view the victims as commodities, exploiting their bodies for profit.
UAE’s Disregard for Human Trafficking: Uncovering the Beneficiaries
Corrupt officials within law enforcement, immigration, and other relevant sectors can contribute to the beneficiaries’ list as well. They may turn a blind eye to trafficking activities. They accept bribes or actively participate in protecting and enabling traffickers just to feed the demands of the booming economy in the UAE, and especially in Dubai. It is important to address another aspect of sex trafficking in the Emirates. While the primary beneficiaries of sex trafficking are the direct actors involved in the exploitation, the wider economy can indirectly benefit from this illicit industry. For example, revenue generated from tourism and associated sectors, such as hotels, restaurants, and entertainment establishments, may be influenced by the presence of sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking in the UAE is driven by economic factors that create a demand for cheap and exploitable labor and sex workers. As well as legal and social factors that hinder the protection and empowerment of the victims.
The beneficiaries of human trafficking are those who profit from the exploitation of human beings at the expense of their dignity and well-being.
It has come to everyone’s attention that the government does not routinely employ standard procedures for victim identification, referral for care and support among foreign workers, particularly women in commercial sex and domestic workers who have fled their employers. Despite the official line of the UAE government on zero tolerance for human trafficking.
For breaking immigration or labor regulations, or for engaging in prostitution, some potential victims end up being fined or deported. Without being acknowledged or supported as trafficking victims. The government also does not provide adequate shelter, medical, legal, or psychological services for the victims. Neither they facilitate their safe repatriation or reintegration.
Another area worth of noticing is the lack of awareness and empathy among the public. The media also contributes to the invisibility and marginalization of the victims in the UAE.
Sex trafficking is a serious human rights violation that affects thousands of women in the UAE every year. Economic issues are what drive the demand for sex workers and cheap, exploitable labor. As well as legal and social factors that hinder the protection and empowerment of the victims. It is happening unheard, ignored, underlining the hypocrisy of a government pretending to be “a leading player in the global campaign against human trafficking”. But that doesn’t do anything to address sex trafficking in its own backyard.