Dubai: Sex traffickers are targeting young, unskilled, single Filipina mothers by preying on the women's desperation to provide a better future for their children, according to a report by Philippine authorities in the UAE.
Almost all of the 30 sex trafficking cases the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai received since last year were single mothers who were lured to Dubai with promises of a non-existent job in the hospitality industry.
Antonio Curameng, the Philippine Consul General, told Gulf News that the report to the Philippine government listed single mothers as potential targets for sex traffickers in the Philippines.
"The sex traffickers know [the single mothers] are the most vulnerable to exploitation," he said.
Sex trafficking victims Gulf News talked to agreed with the consulate's conclusions, saying they believe they were targeted because of their status as single mothers.
"They know we are more likely to agree to take the risk and fly to the UAE to earn money for our children," said Pinky, a 24-year-old single mother from Baguio.
"I came because I wanted to give good future and good life to my son," she added.
She, like at least four others, had come to Dubai, thinking she would work as a guest relations officer or escort in a Dubai hotel, not realising that the position was illegal in the UAE.
Curameng said victims' ignorance was another issue the report addressed.
He said traffickers preyed on their victims' ignorance of local laws to trick them into prostitution.
"They just thought that their job would be to sit and give people company. Nobody said that they would be prostitutes," Curameng said.
He added that the report included recommendations for an awareness campaign to educate the public on UAE laws and to drive home the point that legitimate job offers should come with employment visas and not visit visas.
"It is illegal to bring women in for the sex trade," he said. He added that the consulate has also sent a report to UAE law enforcement agencies regarding the cases they received.
The 2006 US Human Trafficking Report listed the Philippines as a Tier 2 country for being a source of women for commercial sexual exploitation.
Agents confiscate passports
The women are almost always promised jobs in the hospitality industry, usually as guest relations officers at bars and nightclubs.
They enter the UAE via visit visas. Their passports are confiscated almost immediately on arrival by the agent, who is usually a Filipina.
The agents then threaten the women, boasting of connections with law enforcement authorities. They also tell the women that no one will help them if they ran away.
The women then have to work off the cost of flying them into the UAE through prostitution.
The average amount cited is Dh15,000. If the women earn more, they get to keep the rest.