Thursday, March 17, 2005

Desert Nights
[March 16, 2005]

Nobody knows the number of Armenian prostitutes in Arab countries

Dubai's Armenian pimps are notorious for their criminal past. Most of them have been arrested at least once in Armenia for pimping and have spent at least one year in jail.

No one can say how many Armenian prostitutes there are in Arab countries. According to our own one-month investigation, at least 2,000 Armenian women are involved in the sex trade in the UAE, Bahrain, and Oman.

Eliz, an Armenian pimp, was in Dubai in March 2004, but today she and her women, who include underage Armenian prostitutes, are in neighboring Bahrain.

G., a prostitute from Yerevan who has been in Dubai for four years, told us, "Now there are more, probably two thousand of them. You can't imagine what's going on now. Several days ago I went to the Indian restaurant in the Marco Polo hotel, and I saw at least twenty Armenians [prostitutes]. You should have seen what they were like; they're probably all village girls.”

K. from Yerevan told us she felt free and happy in Dubai. "I have everything, I have no problem in my life," she said.

Armenian prostitutes can always be found the nightclub at the Sheraton or the bar at the Broadway Hotel. There already there by noon, greeted like old friends. They can sit for hours in the bar without ordering anything.

It's not so easy to get into the Cyclone. Security guards check for passports and visas, and don't let women in if they catch them with fake documents. They do a face check, too, to keep women out if they're too old or too ugly.

“Ano has a Xerox machine and she uses it to fake documents. They change the photos on the visas. Sometimes the visa has a Russian or Uzbek name, and the photo is of a totally different person. The photo on S.'s visa is hers, but the family name is of a girl from Uzbekistan.”

Anush, or Ano, is a notorious pimp in Dubai, a middleman between pimps in the UAE and certain officials from the Armenian law enforcement agencies. It was Anush who met these officials when they were visiting the Emirates.

Armenian prostitutes in Dubai can be divided into three groups: prostitutes who work under the supervision of pimps, prostitutes who work independently because they have paid their debts to the pimps, and prostitutes who have become the mistresses of local men who do not want them to have any other clients.

Twenty-three-year-old D. from Gyumri has a three-year resident visa. Her sister N. now has a boyfriend she lives with, Jamal, an Arab from Qatar. She no longer works; Jamal doesn't let her. The two sisters work in Jamal's office, N. as a manager and D. as an assistant to the accountant. Since they have resident visas, they can freely go back and forth to Armenia. D. is still working as a prostitute.

There are many cases of Armenian women who have married locals, becoming one of their many wives. These women wear Arabic clothes, change their religion, and adapt to the culture of their “masters”.

Edik Baghdasaryan, Ara Manoogian

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