Dubai- United Arab Emirates, December 2016: A survey to assess Dubai residents’ awareness of human trafficking showed that 94% of respondents have a comprehensive or partial awareness of human trafficking concept.
The survey, which was commissioned by Dubai Police’s Centre of Human Trafficking Monitor and Control Centre, also showed that there is a consensus about the need for tougher punitive measures for those implicated in human trafficking crimes.
Major General Dr. Abdul Quddus Abdul Razzaq Al Obaidli, Assistant Commander-in-Chief for Excellence and Leadership Affairs in Dubai Police, said: “This is the first study of its kind in the UAE and the Middle East, and it helped us understand how effective were the efforts we have been putting to combat human trafficking and raise awareness about it.”
“I am also pleased to mention the numerous achievements and objectives reached by Dubai Police as part of its efforts against human trafficking in record time, through decisions and procedures such as establishing a specialized department supported by qualified police personnel who can deal with these crimes with the highest level of efficiency and professionalism,” he said.
“We also praise our cooperation with Addaera centre which conducted the study with a professional methodology based on scientific foundations, coming out with valuable recommendations that will contribute to elevating the tools and efforts of combating human trafficking.” Al Obaidli added.
His Excellency Dherar Belhoul Al Falasi, Chairman of Addaera Research & Polls Centre, said: “Human trafficking is a cross-border crime that stands as a major challenge to civilized societies and contemporary countries, definitely including the United Arab Emirates. Being an economic hub and global tourist destination makes it target for human trafficking gangs. Dubai must confront this unfamiliar phenomenon to our local society and prevent its dangers from penetrating into it.”
“The survey included both UAE nationals and residents to measure the impact of efforts done to raise social awareness, which is an essential factor to address this phenomenon. We are looking forward that this study will serve as a main reference for decision makers and researchers,” Belhoul said.
The study sample included 1,597 individuals from three different sectors. Government sector employees (823 individuals or 51.5% of the total sample); private sector employees (485 individuals or 30% of the sample), and the general public (285 individuals or 17.8% of the sample). The sample consisted of 20 nationalities living in highly populated areas in Dubai.
Presenting the findings, Hana Lootah, CEO at Addaera Research & Polls Centre, said that the survey showed that 94% of respondents were aware of human trafficking concept, with only 79% of them knew that there is a law against human trafficking in the UAE, while 21% did not know that.
“47% of respondents knew that human trafficking is not limited to sexual exploitation, and that it can include forced labour, child labour, child trafficking and slavery. However, 47% believed that sexual abuse is the only form of human trafficking, while 4% had no idea about its concept and 2% had a different understanding of the subject,” she said.
Lootah added that 68% of respondents got their information about human trafficking from media, while 47% got it from awareness campaigns, lectures or workshops and 24% knew about human trafficking from victims.
Lootah stressed that media should play a more active role in raising awareness on human trafficking.
With regard to the UAE’s efforts against human trafficking, 33.1% said they were fully aware of these efforts, 35% said they were somewhat aware, while 31.9% said they were unaware.
As to who can be a victim of human trafficking, 64% of the respondents said anyone can be a victim, while 35% said women, 28% said children and 7% men. 81% of respondents said that a woman working in prostitution can be a victim of human trafficking, while 19% said no.
Lootah said the study recommendations included providing awareness campaigns with educational information about human trafficking to raise the overall awareness about its concept across all segments of society.
Recommendations also included raising awareness about UAE’s efforts against human trafficking, and providing all police personnel – not only the anti-human trafficking forces- with training programs, to increase chances of identifying victims.