New law to protect domestic workers in the UAE soon.

WAM ABU DHABI: A new law was promised yesterday to protect domestic staff from exploitation by human traffickers, a local newspaper reported today.

“The legislation process takes time, but very soon,” Dr Abdul Rahim Yousif Al Awadi, assistant Foreign Minister for legal affairs, was quoted by The National as saying.

Dr Al Awadi was speaking at the launch of a report revealing that of 35 trafficking victims in Dubai, all but four thought they were coming for work and 19 had been promised work as maids.

“Recruiters promise them there is a job opportunity, but when they come there is nothing, and most are pushed into prostitution,” Dr Mona Al Bahar, director of care and rehabilitation at the Dubai Foundation for Women, said.

Of the 35 women, 27 discovered they had been trafficked within a week of arriving in the UAE – either by being told their job promise was false, or by being subjected to physical abuse. Nine out of ten trafficked women suffered sexual abuse.

Dr Al Awadi said the UAE was making every effort to prevent trafficking. “This year we will increase awareness campaigns in airports, including Dubai airport,” he said.

Most of the trafficked women were poorly educated, with more than half having either no education, or only to primary level.

The UAE Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, which compiled the report, now offers training to police and other authorities on dealing with trafficking victims. Women can also call a hotline for help.

“I think now the victims of trafficking are more aware of agencies that can take care of them, so they are coming out themselves,” Dr Al Awadi said.