Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
a script, and if a woman sought outreach and was complicit in her migration, that she
was not deemed a “trafficked person” and thus not seen as deserving assistance. Gloria,
trafficking paradigm and thus ineligible for outreach or assistance from her Embassy. “I
went to my embassy, I said, I am being abuse, I showed them the burn marks all over
my body from where my boss put out his cigarettes on me,” she explained lifting her
passed. When Gloria went to her Embassy, she was asked if she had contracted her job
through the Ministry of Labor. “When I said yes, and when I said I am a domestic, he
much I can do for you because you weren't trafficked.' So because I contracted and I'm
a domestic, I don't deserve rights?” she asked rhetorically.
Perhaps one of the most harrowing side effects of the trafficking discourse was the
way in which local grassroots organizations such as migrants' rights groups and smal-
ler organizations run by groups of three or four migrant workers were eclipsed in favor
of American style antitrafficking development efforts. Not only did the antitrafficking
discourse provide a script about appropriate victims and villains, but it also painted a
picture of the ideal organization (with one series of negative after effects) to combat
trafficking. A cascading series of missteps ensued from privileged U.S. based antitraf-
ficking discourses (in the form of the TIP) and initiatives. The creation of a vice squad-
ron within the UAE police department led to unwanted raids on street based and brothel
based sex workers who reported abuse at the hands of imported, untrained police of-
ficers. American-supported efforts such as City of Hope actually increased challenges
that migrant women were facing. And grassroots, smaller efforts that had been working
with migrant women and men were eclipsed and ignored. The experience of Sama, a
local grassroots activist who works with migrant women illuminates both of these after
effects quite well:
In a café off of Sheikh Zayed Road, facing the soaring twin towers of the Dubai Fin-
ancial Center, Sama sits at the table, takes a sip of her mint tea, and lets out an ex-
hausted sigh before burying her face in her hands. She has brought a young woman
named Meskit with her to the café this morning, and Meskit is accompanied by her son,
a three-year-old boy named Karim. Karim tears around the café while his mother smiles
at him and adjusts her head scarf.
“I am tired,” Sama says. “Not just today, but tired because this work is taking its
toll on me, and it feels like my job is getting harder and harder to do.” She clenches
her hennaed hands into fists. Meskit slides over to Sama and puts her arm around her.
“This woman is the reason I'm alive,” she says. Meskit proceeds to tell her story, how
she left Addis Ababa to work in Dubai as a domestic worker and was abused and raped
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