Bahrain Combats Human Trafficking, What about Prostitution?

2020-07-06 - 7:17 p

Bahrain Mirror: Women enslavement in Bahrain has returned to the forefront through two incidents: the involvement of US sailors in women trafficking and a report by the U.S. State Department.

In its annual report, on June 25, 2020, the United States of America ranked Bahrain in the first category in the fight against human trafficking, meaning that Manama adheres to minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking.

The report specifically praises the government's performance in granting more workers the right to live without a sponsor, as well as convicting people involved in trafficking offences and compensating victims from a fund created for this purpose.

The report came days after information that U.S. Navy men were involved in trafficking Thai women to perform sexual acts for them.

The State Department report highlights such issues as it calls on Bahrain for greater proactive identification of victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups such as domestic workers, migrant workers and women engaged in prostitution.

Bahrain doesn't exert enough efforts to put an end to the exploitation of vulnerable groups.

U.S. information revealed that American sailors had been involved in crimes related to sex trafficking and prostitutes in recent years.

The charges included allegations that some sailors were trading or attempting to bring Thai prostitutes into Bahrain and house them in their remote apartments in order to obtain a percentage of their night cash earnings.

Bahrain has not disclosed sufficient efforts in this area. Instead of combating U.S. Navy crimes or punishing Bahraini enforcers involved in the trade, the court convicted foreigners in prostitution cases or small Bahraini partners.

Bahrain usually intervenes to investigate such cases when they are reported by third parties.

A foreign embassy in Bahrain complained last year that women were victims of a sex trafficking gang. It noted that two women from her country had been received in Bahrain to work as masseuses before they were forced into prostitution. The two women managed to escape after contacting their embassy.

The court convicted eight Asian nationals and a Bahraini in the incident. However, a source familiar with the case indicated that high-ranking persons were involved in such cases.

The source says, "the work starts with the facilitations they get from the Immigration and Passports Department to bring girls to Bahrain," wondering "What it means to bring a Kazakh woman to Bahrain on the record of a local newspaper?"

"There is no political will to combat this type of trafficking. Only Asian nationals who work for senior persons are held accountable."

The State Department report says the government retains regulatory authority over recruitment agencies, but many migrant workers, including women, arrive in Bahrain independently.

The report also refers to the exploitation of domestic workers in that trade, where they are lured with high wages to escape from homes before being forced into prostitution.

Security agencies have repeatedly revealed that fleeing domestic workers have been exploited by Asian nationals in these practices, but it is not known whether there are Bahrainis involved.

In keeping with the law, the Labour Market Regulatory Authority allowed these girls to obtain a "flexible visa".

The right of legal residence does not grant these women protection from working in this area.

They live in crowded areas and do not have access to decent living conditions. Some resort to selling sex in order to earn money to pay for their residency fees to the Labour Market Regulatory Authority and to help their families in their own countries.

The State Department report asserts that "some women are allegedly forced into prostitution through physical threats and debt-related coercion."

Arabic Version