A human trafficking victim has told how she was saved from slavery by community leaders who barged into a brothel pretending to be officials from her embassy.
Sheeja Aziz, a 34-year-old Indian divorcee, was lured to Dubai by promises of work as a cook.
Instead, she became one of hundreds of women that police believe were trafficked and forced to work as prostitutes by a gang led by female kingpin, Sauda Biwi.
Sauda was arrested by Indian police last week.
Speaking to 7DAYS from her home in Kerala, Sheeja recounted her harrowing experiences in brothels in Dubai and Sharjah, where she was kept prisoner for 10 days after arriving in the UAE. She only managed to escape thanks to social workers from the Peoples Cultural Forum in Sharjah, who went to Sauda posing as Indian Embassy officials.
Sheeja told how she had been kept locked up in cramped flats with other women and was beaten by Sauda and a male accomplice for not obeying their orders.
She said: “They were animals with no heart. They abused me and beat me for not listening to them. I am lucky to have escaped them.”
Human trafficking victim wants justice
Sheeja added: “There are many girls who are not as lucky as I am. They need help to escape from these brothels.”
Sauda was eventually arrested thanks to a complaint lodged by Sheeja after her escape in 2007, which came in the nick of time as she was due to be sold on to another pimp.
“Sauda was speaking over the phone fixing the price for me. It’s sheer luck that I escaped an hour before I was to be sold,” she said.
Sheeja said several men were sent to her during her ordeal, some of whom raped her.
“They locked me up with one man and left the room. Luckily, he turned out to be a good person and could speak my language. I fell at his feet and told him my story,” she said.
The man called her brother-in law in India, who alerted the community group in Sharjah.
Now, Sheeja wants justice should Sauda be found guilty of trafficking.
“She has spoiled the lives of many innocent woman. She should be locked up for life or sentenced to death,” Sheeja said.
Indian police have linked Sauda to the, trafficking of seven women, but say she could be behind more than 300 cases.