Seventeen-year-old SSC student was living with her family in Basabo area of the capital and used to join a local club for dancing with some friends as pastime.
She was approached by one of her neighbours last December with a job offer abroad which would pay her a handsome salary.
With her father remaining unemployed for the last two years and her mother becoming bed-ridden since some months ago, the teenager thought she could be of help to the five-member family and accepted the job abroad. The promise of Tk 50,000 per month seemed like a blessing to her since she had no idea what lay behind such promise.
‘I was offered a job of a waiter in Dubai of the United Arab Emirates. I was told that my daily duty will be eight hours long. Additionally, I did not have to pay any amount for my air ticket or visa,’ the girl told New Age.
She was flown off to Dubai in 24 December last year and it was after reaching the city state that she realised that like many other girls of her age she was also a victim of sex trafficking.
They were taken to different hotels in Dubai and Fujairah where were forced into prostitution.
Criminal Investigation Department of Police in Bangladesh recently busted a sex trafficking ring involved in sending young girls abroad and arrested six accused including the ringleader Azam Khan.
While investigating the case, CID found that some celebrities, established dancers, dance club owners are working as ‘supplier’ for the sex trafficking racket, said Syeda Zannat Ara, special superintendent of police in CID’ serious crime investigation unit.
In a recent development, a team of CID arrested noted dancer and choreographer Evan Shahriar Sohag for his alleged link with the racket involved in trafficking young women to Dubai.
Zannat told New Age that they arrested six people so far having link with this racket while investigating a human trafficking case filed with Lalbagh police station.
Of them, Evan and Al-Amin Diamond are dancers and Nirmal Das is dance club owner.
The girls, mostly aged between 18 and 25, were lured with the promise of good jobs and fat salaries and were flown off to Dubai.
Once they reached the most populated city of the Emirates, they found out that they were trafficked into the sex industry.
CID officer Zannat said that they identified at least 25 people who are under suspicion of trafficking women to Dubai.
‘Of them, some are known celebrities and dancers while rest were new recruits. We are not disclosing the names for the sake of investigation,’ she said.
CID officer Razib Forhan said that they talked to some sex trafficking victims who returned to Bangladesh recently.
The victim girls told investigators that Azam owns four four-star and three-star hotels and they were forced into sex slavery there.
The investigators said, ‘The girls were being sent to Dubai with three-month tourist visas. If they were good looking and could please the customers, the tracking gang would arrange work permit for those girls.’ If customers don’t like them, the girls are sent back to Bangladesh after three months, he added.
Another sex trafficking victim told New Age that she met Mizan through Nirmol. Mizan is the younger brother of Azam.
They gave her Tk 50,000 advance for going to Dubai and even arranged for her air ticket, visa and other required documents.
‘I was forced into prostitution at a hotel owned by Azam in Fujairah. The hotel manager Alamgir used to torture me along with other girls when we protested against sex slavery. They used to starve us,’ she added.
She was not paid any amount during her seven-month stay there although was promised TK 50,000 per month.
The girl then called Bangladesh Embassy officials and with their help she and some other girls returned to Bangladesh last June.
Azam then was expelled from UAE also.
Zannat said finding clues to his racket the UAE law enforcement authorities arrested Azam and two of his cohorts from Bangladesh.
In Dubai, Azam has four hotels — Hotel Fortune Royal, Fortune Grand Hotel, City Tower Hotel and Fortune Pearl Hotel and Dance Club.
He trafficked around 1,000 women to Dubai in the last eight years, said CID officers.
Azam mostly recruited from local dance clubs of Dhaka and Narayanganj, said Razib.
CID officers said that they were planning to issue red notice through Interpol to arrest Azam’s brother Nazim, associates Alamir and Ershad who are now in Dubai.