‘Runaway maids forced into prostitution for KD 10-50 per night’
Kuwait: A Filipina national recently called Al Watan Daily, claiming that Asian women are being lured and forced into prostitution. She accused the pimps of operating under the loop of an organized crime syndicate. The Filipina, who survived the ordeal claimed that brothel owners prey on domestic helpers. Al Watan Daily spoke to pimps in Salmiya & Fahaheel & the Filipina national who was forced to work as a prostitute to expose the sordid aspect of life in Kuwait.
Al Watan Daily’s investigations revealed that small apartments in Salmiya and Fahaheel have been converted into brothels and are being operated by Asian nationals who prey on helpless runaway domestic helpers.
A source revealed that a Filipina woman operates a brothel located in Salmiya’s old souk. The elderly woman who, is in her early fifties, is reported to be working for a company in The Avenues. Runaway domestic helpers who seek shelter in her house are sold to clients for 25-50 Kuwaiti dinars per night. These women are dressed inappropriately, forced to dance at private parties and engage in sexual acts. The woman claimed to be married to a Kuwaiti officer although the women in her brothel denied those claims.
A Filipina pimp in Fahaheel, who claimed to take in her custody runaway domestic helpers said, "It is their choice if they want to engage in prostitution or not. I don’t force anyone to it. They came to me asking for help and shelter and I can’t feed them all and provide for their needs. So I merely suggest prostitution as an option should they want to earn and raise money to pay for their needs and work on their release from their employers. However, it is ultimately their decision to give me something from their income."
Furthermore, the pimp boasted that she has managed to help several runaway domestic helpers who are now working legally in the country. She said the money earned from the trade was saved and used to pay off all legal claims by the women’s employers. "What can anyone do for these women legally when they are in a desperate situation- They can’t work outside because they are reported runaway and they need ample amount of money to pay for the legal proceedings. Some opt to surrender to authorities and others choose to stay and work so they can feed their family back home," the pimp explained.
The Filipina national was forced to work as a prostitute said the couple that recruited her entices domestic helpers to run away from their employers and promises them a good job and better pay.
"These women are forced to please clients for KD 10 – 50 per night. Victims are threatened by pimps with knives should they refuse to go out with clients," she added.
The Filipina national, who prefers to remain anonymous, claimed that she was approached by a compatriot while having lunch at a mall in Kuwait City. She was promised a job in a local hotel as receptionist on the condition that she must run away from her employer. The Filipina took the offer and did was what she was asked to do. She was taken to a house in Jabriya, where she met the husband of the Filipina recruiter who claimed to be a high-ranking officer. The Filipina eventually learned that the couple operated a prostitution service, which provided services to some Arab and foreign nationals in the country.
"Indonesian and Filipina women were held captive in the house by an Arab national who sexually abused these women on daily basis. We were expected to please numerous clients for amounts as low as KD 10. Some prostitutes earned KD 50 per day and the couple took 30 percent of the total amount. We were responsible for our own food, laundry and clothes," related the Filipina national.
Furthermore, she claimed that many of the women were gang raped and moved in one night from one house to another. "One of the women came back bruised and bitten all over and she claimed to have been raped by four men besides a football field in Salwa. It took three weeks for her wounds to heal but when she decided to inform the couple that she wanted to quit and surrender to the authorities, she was threatened at knife point. The officer told her that she would be killed and buried in the desert where no one would find her body. He kept saying he is a high ranking officer and no one would dare in Kuwait to catch or apprehend him. He came to the house once in a blue uniform," the Filipina woman disclosed.
The Filipina woman also said that the prostitutes were constantly moved in three different apartments located in Salmiya, Jabriya and Fahaheel. Each of the apartments was manned by South Asian nationals who, according to the Filipina woman, forced these women to engage in sexual acts. "We have no idea who owned these houses but we were told that the officer had connections with other pimps across the country. We were instructed to inform whoever among our neighbors would ask that we are domestic helpers waiting to be deployed to our employers. At times we stayed in these apartments for as long as two weeks. We believe that they changed the locations so that authorities would not suspect that such place exist in the area," she added.
The Filipina national revealed that sometimes Sri Lankan and African women were temporarily kept in the house by South Asian nationals who were abductors and operators of brothels in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh and Kheitan.
A Labor Official from an embassy in Kuwait stated, "Prostitution maybe the world’s oldest profession and an easy way to earn money but it is not all bed of roses. Many of these women have been caught and are currently in jail and awaiting deportation. Although suspicious areas have been carefully eyed and investigated yet many of these operators have managed to evade the law and continuously exploit and abuse these helpless women. On the other hand, these women must realize that running away from their employers is not a wise decision to make because many along the process have fallen into the hands of these operators."
He added, "No one can ever forget the sad experience of a Filipina woman who was abducted and sold for KD 1 per client in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh. She later managed to escape and run to her embassy, which, in turn, urged the local authority in the area to plan a raid that led to the capture of two of the South Asian nationals who operate these brothels."
Finally an Asian diplomat stressed that these places exist and urged the public to help expose such unlawful activity and bring to justice those concerned in abducting, sexually abusing and selling these women. "It is to my opinion that this kind of trade is not a small issue but a part of huge syndicate and local authorities must start a nationwide campaign to stop these perpetrators from victimizing helpless women," concluded the diplomat.