GDN Newspaper: Cyber war on sex trafficking

Cyber war on sex trafficking By REBECCA TORR A HUMAN rights society is stepping up its campaign to combat sex trafficking in Bahrain through the Internet. The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights is already investigating the perpetrators behind websites that are offering sex to customers here and in other Gulf countries, and now with the same technology it hopes to help solve the problem. It believes raising awareness about sex trafficking and offering victims a way out are the keys to making a difference. The society plans to approach companies, bloggers, recruiters, organisations and others to post on their website a banner in various languages that will contain information about sex trafficking and useful contacts for victims. Similar information will be sent through an e-mail campaign. The society also hopes to produce a film exposing sex trafficking in Bahrain. "I want this issue to be discussed in the community, on websites and in the media," said BYSHR president Mohammed Al Maskati. "We opened the file and will continue to work on this. We want to do something to help these women."

The move follows the group’s discovery that women from Europe, Middle East and Asia were being brought to Bahrain and advertised for sex through more than 50 Arabic and English websites.

The BYSHR’s investigation found more than 1,000 pictures of girls who were all below the age of 25.

The main website advertising sex in Bahrain is based in the US, but the GCC co-ordinator is thought to be operating from here, noted Mr Al Maskati.

It has more than 13,500 members, which includes pimps, prostitutes and customers.

“We are monitoring the sites and found within just two days 1,200 members had been added,” he told the GDN.

“Now we are starting to see websites advertising sex in Bahrain that are established Africa.”

Mr Al Maskati said Bahrain’s amnesty scheme that allows illegal workers and residents to leave the country without penalty is an ideal opportunity for victims of sex trafficking to free themselves.

However, he said, some of these women were unaware of the scheme and even if they knew about it they were prevented from going.

“Some women don’t know about amnesty, they don’t have access to a newspaper or TV, or speak Arabic or English, so how would they know where the ministry and police are?

“Also the women may owe the sponsor money for her ticket and visa and will be forced to pay him back before he lets them go.”

Mr Al Maskati called for authorities to implement a better monitoring system of expatriate workers in Bahrain.

He said authorities needed to conduct thorough checks to ensure expatriates were employed in the job for which they had been issued a visa.

“Someone called me to say an Indian sponsor had married an Indian women and brought her to Bahrain so she could work as a prostitute and every month she has to give him BD200.

“There are also some Bahrainis who marry four women and create a small network advertising them for sex.”

Anyone with information about sex trafficking through the Internet in Bahrain and the Gulf, or who needs help, should contact Mr Al Maskati on 39813867.

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