33 minors were sexually assaulted in the UAE in 2010. But the number could be much higher because for every case that hits the headlines, there are many that go unreported Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: With girls as young as ten being sexually exploited and trafficked across borders, the UAE has decided to update its Federal Law No. 51 of 2006 that deals with human trafficking.

Speaking on the second day of the first Gulf Forum for Combating Human Trafficking Crimes, Colonel Dr Mohammad Abdullah Al Murr from the Dubai Police General Headquarters mentioned four major strategic measures to help curb human trafficking in the UAE: publishing a legal and legislative framework; proving prosecutors and the police support and training on trafficking offenders; supporting victims; and enhancing international relationships and cooperation to stop the spread of human trafficking from its country of origin.

Sara Shuhail, Executive Director of the Ewa'a — a non-profit organisation to help combat human trafficking and to provide shelter to woman and children who fall prey to human trafficking — said current Ewa'a shelters are temporary.

"We are building a new and improved shelter that abides by international security and safety standards."

She refused to release location details regarding the new centre in view of confidentiality and security issues.

"The whole point of having a shelter for victims is to make sure it's not known by anyone but security agencies concerned."

Colonel Al Murr also highlighted the importance of curbing the act of UAE-based companies abusing their labourers through fake salary and job promises.

Electronic contract

"Some labourers are promised false salaries or jobs, and they mostly arrive from eight particular destinations across Asia, which are known to us. That's why an Electronic Employment agreement is under consideration and discussion with countries of origin of labourers. This electronic agreement should be a requirement by the UAE Ministry of Labour that will help ensure that employment contracts are legal and accurate," he said.

Colonel Ali Ahmad Bu Hindi, Deputy of the Assistant General Secretary for Security Affairs, announced new recommendations to be aligned with Federal Law No. 51 of 2006 one of which was forming a joint committee with GCC countries.

"We need to develop a standardised investigation and knowledge-based procedure across the GCC, that is in line with regional and international law enforcement, which in return will help us share information and provide better care for victims, and reduce human trafficking crimes," he said.

Human trafficking cases in the UAE  (source: Ministry of Interior)

  •  20 human trafficking cases in 2008
  • - 43 cases in 2009 and
  • - 46 cases in 2010
  • - 113 human trafficking cases were sheltered at Ewa'a in 2010 alone
  • - 120 cases were sheltered from 2009 till today
  • - 10 to 35 years - ages of women who are currently seeking help from the Ewa'a Ewa'a stats (source: Ewa'a)
  • To report human trafficking cases, you may contact the Ewa'a hotline number on 800SAVE (8007283)
  • Ewa'a centres are located in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah.