Thursday, March 03, 2005

Desert Nights
[March 2, 2005]

I suffer there in my country, I suffer here in Dubai

“My sister is 15. I want to bring her here, because I don't have money. She is suffering there, too. She doesn't have a baby. She is more young. If she is here, it will help us,” says T. from Tanzania, weeping.

We had met her at one a.m. , in the vicinity of the mosque near the Landmark Plaza Hotel, where women from Tanzania who have come to Dubai to work as prostitutes wait for customers.

We agreed on a price with T. and M. —100 dirhams each (30 dollars) for an hour—without any haggling, and headed for the Alshiraa Hotel in a taxi. This is where dozens of Tanzanian prostitutes take their customers.

M. took me to her room. There were two beds in roughly eight square meters of space, separated by a curtain. She locked the door with a key, and started to undress. I told her that we were only going to talk. I also said that we were journalists, and that we were working on an article. We wanted to know how she happened to come to Dubai from Tanzania . When I mentioned her homeland, she laughed out loud. At that moment, someone unlocked the door from the outside. I looked at her, surprised, and asked who it was. She replied calmly that it was her girlfriend, with a client. I couldn't see behind the curtain, but I heard the voices of a man and a woman. M. said that I should forget about them, that they would leave soon - have sex and leave. I asked her if we could go somewhere else, to T.'s room, where she and my colleague Ara were talking.

Ara was sitting on the only bed in T's room, talking to the African woman. When we went in, her eyes were wet with tears.

35-year old T. said that she had never had customers like us, that nobody had ever asked about her village or her family before. There were photographs of her husband and daughter on the nightstand next to her bed. T. told us that roughly 200 Tanzanian women were working as prostitutes in Dubai . She was born in the village of Bokhova . " Tanzania is a very beautiful country," she said. She has been working as a prostitute in Dubai for five years.

When we asked her how old she was, she said, " I look more, because I have so many problems. If I didn't have problem, I'd look younger, but now I have so many problems. You know, in Tanzania, there's too much fighting. That's why my husband died. My husband, my mother, my father died. I have five sisters, I have three babies from my husband. But I don't have a job, I don't have a house, I and my sisters are suffering.

After my husband died, I stayed in my country two years. I slept in the street, and my children too. There are many people living in the street in Tanzania. Then my friend got a visa for me. But I had no money for the ticket. I got money from my friends and I got a ticket and came here. I had to give back 2,000 dollars, I gave them their money. Before, I was here two weeks, I got money and went back. Now Dubai is difficult … Police, if they catch you, they take a picture of your eyes and they make a stamp and you'll never come back. The police don't take money. I have no boss, I am alone here, I have no friend here. Every day, when I am outside the police catch me. If we come out in a taxi, the police says you are black, he [the customer] is white. Why?"

T. pays 100 dirhams a day for her hotel room. "If I get a customer, I pay 20 dirhams down. Maybe I pay 100 dirhams for each day four days, but no work. So I have to sometimes stay outside, sometimes no food, I have problems. I stand in the street. Am I looking good? No, I am not looking good, but what can I do? I never feel pleasure doing this job,” she said.

T. was the third of ten children. "Before I was 15, I didn't see any problem. I had ten sisters and brothers. Now I'm the oldest sister, because my oldest sister died, because of sickness. Now I am the oldest and must hold the family, but I have no house. At 15 years old and now I don't have a difference, because then I had only food, blouse, and school fees, but we were not sleeping good, we were not eating good, we got clothes not good. In Tanzania , school fees are 100 dollars for 3 months. My children, sister's and brother's children, are only sitting, no school fees, just sitting. I have no money for school. In my country, too many people in the street, no food, no blouses, no job," T. said, crying.

"I don't go to the disco, I don't want to sit somewhere. If I stay in, I'll get no customer. Before I stayed in and I didn't get even one customer, just sleeping. I have not easy money for my baby. I stand in the street, if he likes, he comes. There is 18, 20, 25 year-olds from Tanzania , I think, in the same situation. I miss my country. I'd like to go back, if you know…." she broke down and wept.

"You think this job is good? It is not good. I don't like even one day, but… This is not a job. I have not permanent customers. I get a customer, tomorrow another. This job is good, if I get 2000 dollars, I won't stay here. I'm feeling bad, but…I don't have a job in my country, because I don't have good school. I didn't go to school, because my mother and father were poor - no money, just to stay, to get food.

"I don't want to talk about this work, because I don't like this work. I hate it, my heart cries every time, because five years I'm supposed to be in my country, to my baby, but…I suffer there in my country, I suffer here in Dubai .

"I pray every day, if I only get 2000 dollars, I'll go back to my country, to my baby, I won't do this job, I don't like it, I hate it.

"My customers do me badly, they grab my breast. What can I do? I want money. Customer says why you don't give me a kiss, fighting. Customers don't want to take a condom, but if not, I give the money back, because I have children.

"Now is tonight, but I can't sleep. I think about everything. I pray, God, please give me money and I'll go back to my home, my family, and my children. I don't drink. But now I drink, I can't speak to anybody, so I drink.

"I pray so much, I say God help me, I get more money, I see my baby. God help me, I don't want this job, I hate… I pray to get money. I should someday, must be happy-good feeling, eating and …get school fees. But now, I don't know, now my children may be not eating, I don't know, may be not sleeping.”

T. plans to stay in Dubai for another six months. Her sister, J. who is now caring for T.'s children, needs money, and T. plans to bring J’s to Dubai to work as a prostitute as well. We took contact information for her sister, hoping to find someone who can stop her from coming to Dubai .

As we leave, T. said, “Pray for me.”

Edik Baghdasaryan, Ara Manoogian

No comments:

Post a Comment