Nigerians seeking work as prostitutes in the United Arab Emirates

Many Nigerian women are prepared to work in the sex industry to provide for their families and seek a better life for themselves. If you are being recruited to work as a prostitute in Dubai or Abu Dhabi the chances are you will be working for the same madams (mamam) that are trafficking the innocent victims and your fate will be the same. 

Prostitution in the AUE is strictly illegal and there are severe punishments for selling sex or indeed having sex or sharing a room with someone who is not your partner. Prostitution is tolerated in hotel bars and some clubs. However many Nigerian women are forced to work the streets as white or Arab women are preferred. The street is a much more dangerous place to work as there’s a heavy police presence, open and undercover and Nigerians will always stand out. 

Upon arrival at the apartment, you may have your passport removed, probably under the guise that they need it for some visa-related reason. You will then most likely be given back a fake passport. In Dubai, you will need your passport and visa with you at all times and both are required to collect money, buy a SIM card, rent a room etc. This way the traffickers keep you “legal” but unable to escape.

You may be told that you have to earn a minimum of 100,000 AED in order to pay off your debts. These debts might be visas, flights and accommodation but they are not debts at all. In fact, the traffickers use money from stolen credit cards to finance their schemes. To put it into context, trafficked Nigerian prostitutes earn around 200 AED (20,000 NGN) per client, so that would mean seeing 200 clients before you see any money, which you won’t. 

Your initial visa will be paid for by your madame and giving it to you is part of the story of making it all look official. A stamped visa with your name, photo and passport details, a UAE crest and approval for a sales job sponsored by someone or some company with an Arabic name you can’t look up or research. The visa will be valid but the chances are you will not be working in sales.

Most madams operate from apartments where girls are crammed into small rooms. Usually, their work is performed in client’s hotels but occasionally all the girls may have to gather in one room to allow the other girls to bring back clients. Underperformance by the girls is punished in a variety of ways – beatings, chilli paste being wiped into their vaginas or removal of their smartphone – a vital lifeline to home.