1. What is human trafficking?
UAE Federal Law No. 51 of 2006 defines human trafficking as, ‘the recruitment, transportation or receipt of persons by means of threat or force or by coercion, kidnap, fraud, deceit, abuse of power, exploitation or the offer or receipt of money or inducements to secure the consent of a person who is in control of another for the purpose of exploitation. This includes all forms of sexual abuse, involuntary servitude, mistreatment, coercion and work force abuse, as well as the illegal trading of human organs.’
2. Who are the victims?
There are millions of human trafficking victims worldwide. Contrary to stereotypes, victims are not only young girls who fall into the trap of sexual exploitation networks, but also include older women, men and children of all ages, who are exploited in forced labour, sexual exploitation and all other forms of this globally widespread crime.
3. Who are most vulnerable to human trafficking crimes?
Although human trafficking affects various categories of society, the poor and uneducated are the most vulnerable. Women and children constitute the largest percentage of victims. Women account for 80% of total victims, the proportion of children is estimated at 50%. However, some victims of war and natural disasters, in addition to some cases of students and men who often work for free and are treated like slaves, also fall prey to human traffickers.
4. Who are the human traffickers?
Under international law, human traffickers are criminals committing crimes against human rights. Although they usually work in organised networks, ‘hunting’ victims, some of them work independently. The criminal may be a close associate of the victim, from the family, a neighbour or friend. Human traffickers, who treat their victims very badly in inhumane living conditions, are found on farms, in factories, and begging and prostitution networks. Some also work in marriage networks that hunt for poor families who give up their daughters without even knowing the fate that awaits them.
5. Where do human trafficking networks get their support and assistance from?
Like other organised crimes, the human trafficking ‘industry’ is based on supply, demand and all related factors. When favourable conditions and circumstances exist, children, women and men become the ‘commodity’ that drives this market. There are some parties that contribute directly to human trafficking, including financiers and investors who own human trafficking networks, money laundering companies, recruiters specialised in sourcing victims,’ people who supervise the transfer of victims, facilitate their travel and falsify their papers, and some officials of departments who do not adhere to professional ethics. Parties that contribute indirectly are hotels, real estate companies, airlines, employment offices, marriage offices, newspapers, advertising companies, social websites, banks, some financial institutions, and owners of farms, factories and shops.
6. Is human trafficking limited to sexual exploitation?
Sexual exploitation, along with forced labour, is the most common type of human trafficking. However, there are many other forms, such as the use of victims in crimes of theft, fraud and begging, the trafficking of girls for forced marriage, the use of children in armed conflict, and the use of illegal and forced labour in homes.
7. Do criminals use physical violence to exert pressure on victims?
Yes, criminals use all kinds of physical violence against victims, including beating, torturing and rape. However, physical violence is not the only tool used to exert pressure on the victims. Criminals use the most extreme forms of violence and psychological persecution to gain control over the victims, including:
- Threatening to harm their families and relatives,
- Threatening to kill or disfigure the victim,
- Threatening victims with imprisonment or with-holding food and drink,
- Preventing victims from communicating with others,
- Defaming victims within their community
- Distorting the reception they would receive from police so they become afraid to escape and report their case.
8. What is the difference between human trafficking and smuggling?
Human trafficking is often confused with human smuggling, which is the organised, illegal movement of persons across international borders with their consent, in exchange for money. This concept of human smuggling is different, in the eyes of the law, from the other crimes of human trafficking, which fraudulently transfer and use victims in various forms of exploitation without their consent. Unlike smuggling, human trafficking may occur within or outside a state. Because some of the victims are caught in human traffickers’ nets during their search for better job opportunities outside their own country, it is possible that there is an overlap between human smuggling and trafficking crimes when human traffickers target those who seek to illegally get out of their countries.
9. Are there statistics on the number of human trafficking victims in the world?
According to United Nations statistics, human trafficking generates $31 billion annually and enslaves 5.2 million people around the globe. Statistics of the International Labor Organization (2005) show that there are about 2.5 million victims in the hands of human traffickers all over the world, and most of them are victims of sexual exploitation. This inhuman phenomenon is growing rapidly in the world, and has been described by experts as the world’s third-largest criminal activity after drug and arms trafficking.
10. What happens to human trafficking victims?
Human trafficking victims are exposed to total deprivation of freedom of movement, torture, beating, starvation and even rape. Victims are threatened with death or the harming of one of their families. They are subjected to constant extortion and exploitation of their hard work by being forced to repay a ‘due debt’ i.e. travel card, visa, accommodation expenses etc. They are also subject to serious physical and psychological illnesses that may lead to addiction or death.
11. Why don’t the victims attempt to escape from the networks that control them?
It's not that easy! Due to the circumstances of their ‘detention,’ the complete control the traffickers have over them and the continuing threats to them and their families, victims lose self-confidence and trust in the outside world and become slaves in every sense of the word. They become deprived of all their rights, including the freedom of thought. They are characterised by caution and extreme fear. However, many victims around the world succeed in escaping and rescuing many other victims after network members have been detected, arrested and brought to justice on their evidence.
12. What global efforts are there to combat human trafficking?
There are many global efforts aimed at combating and preventing human trafficking crimes. The United Nations has established several conventions and initiatives that emphasise the importance of co-ordination and co-operation between all parties, and it obligates its member states to abide by them. The most important of these conventions and initiatives are:
- The 2000 United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime,
- Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations 2000 Convention against Transnational Organised Crime,
- Optional Protocol 2000 on Child Rights covering the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the
- United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.
Based on these legal and ethical foundations, conferences were held, legislation introduced, agreements signed and states have made efforts to combat this phenomenon.
13. How can human trafficking crimes be prevented?
By taking practical and legal procedures that contribute to fighting the phenomenon. One of these is the important security and legislative role of governments in monitoring migration issues, passports, entry and residence of foreigners, especially children, to protect them from exploitation, in addition to imposing more control over the effectiveness of the ports of the countries, and joining efforts and co-ordinating with embassies to monitor the employment and recruitment processes. On the other hand, prevention of human trafficking crimes requires raising awareness through combating poverty, supporting education, protecting women and children in crises and wars, as well as activating the role of civil society organisations and voluntary work.
14. What efforts has the UAE made to reduce human trafficking crime?
The UAE has been vigorous in combatting human trafficking crimes. Its efforts are on several fronts, including developing legislation related to human trafficking issues, enabling the concerned authorities to apply deterring and preventive measures, and providing protection and support to victims. In addition, the UAE has created initiatives and adopted prominent role in concluding dual agreements and strengthening international co-operation. UAE seeks to work on all fronts to combat human trafficking so that the country can become an active member of the international community, and a sterling example for the region. The UAE established specialised shelters that care for human trafficking victims. Also, it launched several campaigns that are supervised by different social, rehabilitative and health entities to raise awareness of the importance of fighting the phenomenon at international, regional and local levels.
15. If I'm looking for an employment contract in the UAE, how do I avoid getting caught in the human traffickers’ nets?
Verify everything about the entity that offers you employment in the UAE. To avoid the risk of getting caught in these nets, you should verify the credibility of the entity by consulting the embassy of the country you plan to work in, contact the company, verify its address and browse its website, if any. Also, you must be wary of excessively attractive offers; as they are usually used as bait to lure victims.