Dubai, UAE – The Dubai Police has conducted its first ever human trafficking awareness forum at the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai and the Northern Emirates on Monday, February 26.
The forum conducted by 1st Lt. Rashid Nasser Ali of the General Department of Human Rights at the Dubai Police, is part of the UAE government’s heightened campaign against human trafficking, of which thousands of Filipinos in the Middle East fall prey.
In the forum, Ali told overseas Filipinos the UAE government does not encourage anyone who intend to work in the country, to come on a visit visa because this will make them targets of illegal recruiters and vulnerable to different kinds of abuses by employers.
“If you want to come here to work, come on a working visa. Make sure that your visa is authentic. Many who come to the UAE are also victims of contract substitution so make sure that you go through a genuine employment agency and not a bogus one. Also make sure that your passport is not fake,” said Ali.
The Police official added, most of the victims of human trafficking rescued by UAE authorities come from poor families and with less education, which traffickers take advantage of.
“By definition, human trafficking is the buying and selling of men, women and children within countries and across borders in order to exploit them for money. We have dealt with cases where victims were held against their will and were forced into prostitution because they are staying illegally and have no working visas,” he added.
Ali also urged the Filipino community in the country, especially those whose resident or working visas have already expired, not to be afraid to seek police assistance when they are in danger.
“Do not be afraid of the police. We are here to serve you. In the UAE, your rights are protected by the law. One of the modus of the traffickers is to print in the minds of the victims that they are illegal in the country so they must fear the police. This should not be the case. The UAE upholds human rights and the government have programs to help those who are abused,” said Ali.
He also emphasized that the Dubai Police are willing to work with the Philippine consulate to help spread awareness on the dangers of human trafficking among all Filipino expats.
He encouraged consulate officials to immediately report cases of abuse to the police so that immediate action will be effected.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) latest study showed that 20.9 million people are being trafficked around the world, with victims between 18 and 34 years old. The study also revealed that a large number of human trafficking victims have been sold by family members to traffickers or tricked by relatives and friends.
Traffickers engage in numerous techniques to deceive victims and give them false hope. Illegal processes for overseas recruitment include contract switching and overcharging for administration and processing fees, as well as forcing victims to sign contracts in foreign languages.
There are five current trends in trafficking of Filipinos according to IOM, namely: trafficking of children, particularly girls, for cybersex; trafficking of men and boys for forced labor; trafficking of women and children for domestic work; trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation; and trafficking for organ removal. -Henri Abenis-Macahilo
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