Atul Aneja

DUBAI: Launching a new drive against human trafficking, authorities in Dubai have busted a well entrenched prostitution ring operating from upscale villas and apartments.

The Dubai police have arrested 247 suspects, including 170 sex workers after raiding 22 locations on December 1, said Dubai police chief Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim. Most of the sex workers were from East Asia.

This operation is only part of a series of other raids and measures that we will undertake to eliminate human trafficking from Dubai, sources in Dubai police told The Hindu.

Analysts point out that men and women have been trafficked to the United Arab Emirates (UAE.), where they have faced involuntary servitude and commercial exploitation.

There have been reports about UAE also being used as a transit country for human trafficking in the region. Women from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, India, Pakistan, China, the Philippines, Iraq, Iran, and Morocco have been reportedly trafficked to the U.A.E.

However, armed with a new law, authorities have started targeting the networks, said Lt. Gen. Dahi. He said women who had been inadvertently drawn into prostitution rings or possess information about such networks can make use of the Al Ameen helpline and seek protection.

He added that with the biggest raid launched, a war on human trafficking had been declared.

Earlier this year, UAE Attorney-General Eassam Al-Humaidan had announced that a decision had been taken to confront human traffickers with an iron hand. He said practitioners would face a five-year jail sentence. Besides, anyone convicted of forming a gang for this purpose would be jailed for life.