DUBAI, 16 March 2007 — Police arrested and deported 4,300 prostitutes from the United Arab Emirates last year, a police colonel said in remarks published yesterday about a normally taboo subject in the region.
Mohammed Al-Mir, who heads Dubai police human rights department, gave the figure to a seminar on people trafficking, the newspaper 7 Days reported.
He gave no details about where the prostitutes originated nor the countries to which they were deported but said police were clamping down to end the prostitution problem.
Regular raids were being carried out in places thought to be frequented by prostitutes, deported women were blacklisted to prevent their return, and tourist companies bringing women into the country were checked to make sure their clients were not prostitutes.
Companies found to be bring in the sex workers had their registration canceled.
But Mir told the seminar that there had to be discrimination between those caught working willingly as prostitutes and those forced into it.
“The woman that practices prostitution without pressure from anybody must be punished and deported. But if somebody has forced her into prostitution and takes advantage of her body to make a financial profit then she is a victim and the person who forced her into prostitution will be punished,” he said.
In a break with normal silence on the subject, Dubai police chief Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim in June 2002 acknowledged that prostitution existed in the emirate with most women coming from Eastern Europe.
In November 2006 the United Arab Emirates passed a law envisaging heavy penalties, up to life imprisonment, for those guilty of trafficking in people, including all forms of sexual exploitation.