How torture, deception and inaction underpin UAE’s thriving sex trafficking industry

How torture, deception and inaction underpin UAE’s thriving sex trafficking industry

African women trafficked into the UAE are forced into debt and subjected to threats and violence, as they are kept in sexual slavery. The case of Christy Gold, who has been charged with sex trafficking in Nigeria, highlights the torment endured by these women in the UAE.

On a pleasure boat cruising Gulf waters near Dubai’s glittering skyline, a Nigerian woman in a white dress and gold jewelry nodded and swayed as a gathering sang “Happy Birthday” to her.

Videos of Christy Gold’s 45th birthday party were posted in May last year on an Instagram account that showcases her glamorous lifestyle, months after Gold fled Nigeria, where she was facing sex trafficking charges.

Gold – whose name appears in court records as Christiana Jacob Uadiale – was a ringleader in a criminal network that lured African women to Dubai and forced them into prostitution in brothels, backstreets, bars, hotels and dance clubs, according to six Nigerian government anti-trafficking officials, a British human rights activist who has tracked her operation and five women who say they were trafficked and exploited by her.

Three of the women said in interviews that Gold told them that if they didn’t do as they were told, they’d be killed and dumped in the desert. Those who didn’t make enough money for her were taken to a room in an apartment in Dubai, where Gold’s brother starved them, flogged them and shoved hot chili paste into their vaginas, according to three anti-trafficking officials and five women who provided detailed accounts in interviews and court statements.

“They beat the hell out of me,” one of the women said. “The suffering was too much.”

In a statement to the court after she was charged, Gold denied that she and her brother were sex traffickers. “I am not involved in human trafficking and I do not have any girls in Dubai working for me as a prostitute,” she said.

Gold remains a fugitive from justice – part of what anti-trafficking activists and officials say is a thriving underground of suspected Nigerian sex traffickers who have taken refuge in the United Arab Emirates, a Gulf nation known for its wealth, futuristic skyscrapers and what rights groups say is a poor record on protecting foreign workers and basic freedoms.



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