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Mariam, 16, relives the day her father in Baghdad sold her off as a domestic worker in one of the prosperous Gulf nations. Instead, she was forced into the sex trade. I was told that they [the traffickers] were going to get good money for my first night with an old local man who paid for my virginity. Before she left Iraq, she and her three sisters were being cared for by her father.
Their mother was killed during the US-led invasion of the country in He was promised that his daughter would be returned to Iraq after finishing a one-year contract. Mariam said she faced daily threats in Dubai from the traffickers, warning her not to try to leave. It says 25 percent of these women have been trafficked abroad since the start of , many unaware of their fate.
The Iraqi government says it is investigating cases of women being trafficked and has arrested some traffickers, but tackling insecurity in the country is its main priority. They call for more action against countries that turn a blind eye to the sex trade. Trafficking and prostitution are illegal in the six nations of the Gulf, although the region is a popular and common destination for trafficked women. Gulf gangs Sharla Musabih is a human-rights activist in Dubai who runs a shelter for abused and trafficked women.
She says sex workers in the UAE operate predominantly from hotels and organised gangs are behind much of the trade. However, the report praised UAE authorities for the closer screening of visa applications by its embassies in source countries; for having set up a human-trafficking division to investigate trafficking crimes; and for training police, prosecutors, judges, and other government officials in combating trafficking.
No one was available from the Dubai immigration and police department to comment on this issue. Syria is increasingly becoming a popular destination for traffickers, according to humanitarian agencies.