The United Nations refers to it as the “hidden figure of crime” as estimates show that anywhere between 20 and 40 million people are trafficked worldwide. Only 0.04% of these people get identified, making the battle against human trafficking one of the toughest global fights.
The UAE recognizes this and has several laws, rules and protection systems to keep this evil at bay as much as possible.
So, what exactly constitutes human trafficking?
According to antislavery.org: “Human trafficking involves recruitment, harbouring or transporting people into a situation of exploitation through the use of violence, deception or coercion and forced to work against their will.
“In other words, trafficking is a process of enslaving people, coercing them into a situation with no way out, and exploiting them.
“People can be trafficked for many different forms of exploitation such as forced prostitution, forced labour, forced begging, forced criminality, domestic servitude, forced marriage, and forced organ removal.”
Human trafficking in numbers:
51 per cent of identified victims of trafficking are women, 28 per cent children and 21 per cent men
72 per cent people exploited in the sex industry are women
63 per cent of identified traffickers were men and 37 per cent women
43 per cent of victims are trafficked domestically within national borders
Information courtesy: www.antislavery.org
UAE combatting human trafficking
The UAE condemns, prohibits and penalises human trafficking through a comprehensive action plan to fight it regionally and abroad. The plan includes: prevention of human trafficking, prosecution and punishment of traffickers, protection of survivors and promotion of international cooperation.
Report trafficking and get support in the UAE
The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC) is the first licensed non-profit shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence, abuse and human trafficking in the UAE. It was established in July 2007 to offer victims immediate protection and support services in accordance with international human rights obligations.
The foundation provides free services to women and children who are victims of violence. It offers a helpline, safe shelter, case management, medical care, psychological support, counselling and legal, consular and immigration assistance. In addition to those core services, DFWAC also provides secondary support services including children's education, recreational activities, vocational services, physical fitness, all-round empowerment and skills training.
You can contact them on 800111 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org
The UAE government established the Ewa'a: Shelters for victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
The first Ewaa shelter was opened in Abu Dhabi in 2008 to receive women and children victims of human trafficking. The second shelter, receiving male victims, was opened in 2013. More shelters are expected to open in other emirates to expand the work of this initiative all over the UAE.
Ewaa shelters are non-profitable establishments working in co-operation with the UAE National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT), under Federal Law No. 51 of 2006 (amended by Law No. 1 of 2015), which considers human trafficking as a crime subject to legal penalties.
You can call them on 8007283. This number is in operation seven days a week, in multiple languages, to assist victims of human trafficking.
In Sharjah, Women's Protection Centre of the Social Services Department of Government of Sharjah (SSSD) has allocated a toll free number 800-800-700 to provide social, psychological and legal counselling and solutions to domestic issues by legal, social and psychological specialists. SSSD also provides family consultations through its website.
In addition, there are several social support centres under the supervision of Abu Dhabi Police that look after victims of human trafficking. They render all necessary support in co-ordination and co-operation with various relevant institutions.
There is also the General Directorate for Human Rights Protection that works under the supervision of Dubai Police and provides psychological, social and legal support to women and children who are victims of human trafficking. The Directorate provides victims with support such as temporary shelter, temporary visas and air tickets to return to their homelands.
Report human trafficking issues through Dubai Police-Control Center of Human Trafficking on +9714-6082347
Hotline for Labour complaints: 8005005
Hotline for human trafficking issues: 8007283
UAE law against human trafficking
Federal Law No. 51 of 2006 as amended by Federal law No.1 of 2015 was the start of the UAE's official initiative to combat human trafficking locally.
Under the law, human trafficking includes all forms of sexual exploitation, engaging others in prostitution, servitude, forced labour, organ-trafficking, coerced service, enslavement, begging and quasi-slavery practices. In addition, the law ensures that a person aware of a human trafficking crime and does not report it can be punished.
The law raises awareness of the crime, helps the victims, as well as protects victims and any eyewitnesses. It stipulates a minimum fine of Dh100,000 and a minimum of five years in jail for offenders.
Other laws that address human trafficking in the UAE are:
Federal Law No. 15 of 1993 which deals with organ transplant
The regulation on Federal Law No. 18 of 2009 which modified the process of registering births and deaths.
Fighting human trafficking
The UAE National Committee for Combatting Human Trafficking (NCCHT) was established in 2007 pursuant to a Cabinet order to coordinate efforts and enforce plans to combat human trafficking at various levels in all the seven emirates of the federation. The Committee includes 18 representatives from various federal and local institutions.
Since its establishment, the Committee has sought to achieve its aims through many initiatives and activities including the staging of specialised meetings, visits and workshops. Today, it is seen as the UAE's official representative at international conferences relating to combating human trafficking.
Ministry of Interior initiated several mechanisms to protect human rights, particularly all forms of human trafficking. Some of its initiatives are:
• Promoting anti-human trafficking culture and awareness
• Cooperating with Interpol through exchange of information on human trafficking crimes
• Monitoring individuals involved or suspected of being involved in such crimes
• Enforcing tighter control at entry points
• Using unified criminal justice and Interpol systems to verify individuals at entry points.