When a young Bangladeshi girl arrived in Oman for the first time, what she didn’t know was that she was registered as a 20-year-old and destined for employment as a domestic worker.
The 11-year-old girl’s information was tweaked by her own grandfather, who later sold her into prostitution in the Sultanate.
This case from 2015 was shared by Marwa Al Balushi, an official at the Ministry of Social Development during a forum on Combating Human Trafficking held in Muscat from April 1-2, organised by the Omani Human Rights Commission in cooperation with the National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking.
Al Balushi also shed light on other horrific incidents of abuse; one particularly disturbing allegation included an Asian mother who was pushed from the third floor of a building after being sexually assaulted by three men.
Human trafficking victims in Oman are fostered in the Al Wifaq Centre, where they receive protection, pocket money, and free healthcare services.More than 70 human trafficking victims, all women, have been sent to the facility since 2012.
According to statistics announced at the conference, 56 per cent of trafficking victims are of Bangladeshi nationality, followed by smaller numbers of Indonesians, Thais, Laotians, and Sri Lankans.
“A human trafficking victim stays [at the centre] for nearly one year until the case is over,” said Al Balushi, adding that this adds a financial burden on the centre which also fosters victims of child abuse in an adjacent facility.
To provide better services to support these women in their healing process, Nasser Al Riyam, Assistant Attorney General has called for launching a state-supported fund to collect money to help victims of human trafficking.
During the forum, experts emphasized the importance of knowing how to identify and report cases of human trafficking.
Al Riyami said that holding someone’s passport, or forcing employees to work overtime without pay, fall under human trafficking violations which are criminalized by Omani law.