Bahraini Women Duped Into Sexual Slavery

Many Asian women in Bahrain are being duped into working as sex slaves for men who lure them with promises of marriage, according to Thai Ambassador Phithak Phrombubpha.

He says victims are put up in apartments and visited once a week by their boyfriends, who brainwash them into believing they will eventually live together and start a family.

Mr Phrombubpha said women who want to escape are powerless to act as their passports are confiscated and once their visit visas expire they become illegal residents who rack up huge overstay fines that they have no means to pay.

His comments come after one victim of human trafficking, who managed to escape from her captor, came to the embassy seeking help.

The 25-year-old, whose identity is being protected, is being kept in an emergency accommodation in Zinj until she flies home on Friday.

"These people come to Bahrain because of an economic problem and they want to earn money," Mr Phrombubpha told the GDN.

"People recruit them by any means but they may not know exactly what kind of work they will be doing.

"Many Arabs come here and hire apartments and have these kind of women staying there.

"There maybe many Thai women with similar cases and who is to say there may not be women of other nationalities.

"Some of them can go out freely but others are kept inside and they cannot leave because their passports are confiscated.

"We would like to warn the newcomers that they have to be on alert and comply with the laws here.

"They have to know about the visa system."

The Thai victim came to the embassy in Zinj after her Saudi boyfriend beat her up while he was under the influence of alcohol.

She managed to run away and a taxi driver dropped her off at the embassy.

"She was a registered nurse and was promised a job in her profession, but she was sent to a hotel and the people who brought her here said she had to pay back BD1,500," said Mr Phrombubpha.

"She thought that she had a chance to go to Australia because she was told they needed nurses.

"She was told that she would go there from Bahrain once her paperwork was completed.

"A Saudi customer then later bought her from the pimp and she fell in love with this man.

"He kept her locked in a room and every week he would come to see her and give her some money so she could send it to Thailand."

The woman, from Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, is single and does not have children but travelled abroad to support her parents and other family members. Her Saudi lover gave her BD50 a month to send back home.

An embassy spokesman said this was one of the more extreme cases officials had come across.

"This is a genuine case of human trafficking," he said.

"It is the tip of the iceberg and hopefully we will be able to encourage more people to come out."

Although willing to go home, the embassy official said the woman still appears to be in love with the Saudi man and is hoping he will stick to his promise to marry her.

She does not wish to press charges against him and, while officials say they are powerless to stop her if she wishes to return to him, they are determined to protect her and ensure she leaves Bahrain.

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