The UAE residents are no strangers to flyers and brochures promoting illegal massage centers left behind on car windshields in parking lots and pushed underneath the main entrance door in both low-rise as well as high-rise apartments by ‘enterprising’ individuals.
But what should one do when an individual offers a full-body massage at home or even at an illegal and unlicensed centre?
How should one react to the ‘massage centre’ cards left on car windshields and front doors?
Will the woman or the men found distributing such literature (if they can be called that) face any penalties?
Or will those who fall in the trap and take up on those illicit offers face any penalties?
Answering these questions exclusively for Emirates 24|7 readers are Colonel Jamal Al-Jallaf, deputy director of the General Department of Criminal Investigation at Dubai Police; Omar Bu Shahab, Executive Director of Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection at the DED and Judge Ahmed Ibrahim Saif from Dubai Court.
These questions and inquiries answered by security officials and economists also judges of the courts, with the following answers:
What is the UAE law’s take on people promoting such services?
Colonel Jamal Al Jallaf, Deputy Director of the General Department of Criminal Investigation at Dubai Police confirmed that the act of promoting such services through ads that contain nude pictures of women and their telephone numbers are illegal.
He said that Dubai Police in coordination with the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) combat such activities, especially since the DED is aware of exactly which are licensed massage centers.
What usually happens when residents fall into such traps?
Col. Al Jallaf also warned Dubai residents from responding to such ads where girls offer to host them at their homes or at the clients’ homes as it could lead to bigger crimes such as robbery, violence murder. Soliciting the services of such dubious massage centres have led to such incidents in the past.
He pointed out that the customer might become a victim of such girls who go to other people’s homes to give ‘massages’. The clients who fall into these illegal traps have no information on these girls except the phone number that they give out in the flyers and visiting cards. So, when they become victims of crime, they have no way of tracking these culprits.
Why it is better to immediately report such crimes to the police?
Al Jallaf says that victims of such crimes and others who receive offers for similar services should inform the police immediately because the police officials deal with these reports very seriously. Authorities send patrol cars immediately to arrest the girl/s or prepare to ambush the apartments where such suspicious activities take place.
How does DED monitor people who solicit such services?
On the other hand Omar Bu Shahab, Executive Director of Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection at the DED said that the department monitored the girls who are involved in such activities and as well the recipients of such offers.
"It is very clear those who are involved in such activities are actually engaging in human trafficking," says Bu Shahab.
He confirmed that pursuing such activities is a crime as the distribution of cards with nude images is a crime as well.
What role do Dubai Police and DED play in solving such crimes?
Bu Shahab explained that there is comprehensive and complete cooperation between the DED and the Dubai Police in solving such crimes. The DED keeps track of such activities and report to the police about them.
He added that Dubai Police in the past had raided apartments and arrested girls involved in these activities after receiving tip-offs from the DED.
What kind of people engage in such illegal activities?
Bu Shahab said there are two types of girls who are involved in such work. The first kind involve those who work in legal massage parlours by the day and engage in some illegal freelance work in the after-work hours to earn some extra bucks.
The second type involve girls whose residence visas have expired and they overstay their welcome in the UAE and get involved in such illegal activities to earn their livelihood.
What are the authorities doing to curb this massage menace?
Bu-Shahab stressed that the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection launched periodic campaigns to nab the massage girls who engage in such illegal practices.
He added that the department also monitors the work of licensed massage centers to ensure that they comply with the legal terms of the trade and conform to the industry practices as well as the health standards.
Any word of caution for massage centre clients?
Potential clients should beware that the licensed massage centers are not accredited to carry out plastic surgeries or any other activities more complicated than massage.
How are the massage centres penalised for illegal activities?
The penalty imposed on those centres found violating the norms of the trade and caught indulging in illegal activities are fined Dh2,000 the first time and the shop is forced to shut down for a week. If the same centre is caught the second time, the fine is increased to Dh5,000 and the shop is forced to close down for two weeks.
How are the workers of unlicensed illegal massage centers penalised?
Judge Ahmed Ibrahim Saif the judge at Dubai Court confirmed that Federal Penal Code 3 of 1987 includes many penalties.
He added the penalty in Article 361 stipulates that those found distributing flyers carrying pornographic images would be imprisoned for a term not exceeding six months and fined Dh5,000, or both.
According to Article 363 which stipulates that girls who lure in customers and incite them to debauchery and prostitution are likely to be imprisoned for a year in addition to payment of the fine.
Are the clients or receivers of such illegal services also likely to be penalised?
Judge Saif confirmed that there is also a penalty for the person who responds to the massage girls’ promotions and clients would be subjected to punishment. According to Article No 356 of the federal penal code, the client could face imprisonment for a term not less than one year.
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