Dubai Sex: Searching for the Low Down?

One of the most popular search terms that brings web traffic to this website is “Dubai sex” with 50,000 hits in March 2024 and rising. If you are one of the people who landed here through a Google search then welcome! Obviously, an anti-human trafficking website is not what you were expecting. Now you’re here why not spend 3 minutes reading about the sinister side of “Dubai sex” and learn how you can become part of the solution? You’ll be better placed to help a woman or girl who might have been trafficked to Dubai, or indeed anywhere, for sexual exploitation.

Real Stories Behind “Dubai Sex”

The term “Dubai sex” might initially evoke thoughts of the city’s vibrant nightlife and adult entertainment. However, this facade often masks a more sinister reality – many women involved in Dubai’s sex trade are not there by choice. They are victims of human trafficking, coerced into sexual exploitation under dire circumstances. Some researchers estimate the number of women trapped in the UAE as victims of sex trafficking to be 20,000.

Modern Slaves not Free Agents

Traffickers lure many women from West Africa to Dubai with promises of legitimate work, only to trap them in a cycle of sexual exploitation. The traffickers isolate these women, confiscate their passports and smartphones, and force them into prostitution to pay off fabricated debts, a practice known as debt bondage. This coercive and controlling system strips the women of their autonomy, making escape or refusal nearly impossible.

The Mechanisms of Trafficking

Human trafficking operates on deception and exploitation, targeting the most vulnerable. Traffickers frequently prey on those in desperate economic situations, offering them a lifeline of supposed employment in affluent cities like Dubai. Once isolated from their home country and support networks, these women are manipulated into a life they never chose. The sex worker you were seeking through your search could well be a victim of human trafficking. Whilst there are independent sex workers in Dubai, in their midst is a large cohort of trafficked women and girls, some as young as 13 in our direct first had experience.

Challenging the Misconception

It is crucial to challenge the common misconception that all sex workers in places like Dubai and throughout the world are participating willingly. If you are buying sexual services, become an ethical consumer. It’s not easy to tell if someone has been trafficked for sex but there are signs to look for. Victims may:

    • Display signs of fear, intimidation, or confusion.
    • Often appear withdrawn, anxious, or bewildered.
    • Constantly monitored or guarded by others.
    • Marked with tattoos that signify ownership.
    • Exhibit evidence of physical harm such as bruises, scars, or burn marks.
    • Unable to retain their earnings, with severely limited or no access to their own money.
    • Possess a restricted vocabulary in English, often limited to terms related to sexual activities.
    • Frequent visits by male guests who stay only briefly.
    • Presence of materials indicating sexual services, like business cards and promotional ads.
    • Multiple female foreign nationals residing at the same location.
    • Sleeping where they work, suggesting the operation of a brothel at the location.

A Dubai sex worker in a bedroom in Dubai Ask: Do you need help?

Asking a potential victim directly “Do you need help?” is probably the best method to determine if she has been trafficked. However, she may be too frightened to seek help or even admit she needs it, fearing punishment from her trafficker. Always ensure you ask this question during a private conversation, away from the sight and hearing of others, including anyone who may appear to be working with her. Traffickers often organize their victims into a hierarchy with privileges. For example, a victim who has complied with demands and is nearing the repayment of her fabricated “debt” may be promoted to ‘senior girl.’ This role involves monitoring other girls for signs of dissent, theft, or under-earning, and unfortunately, senior girls may eventually traffic other women, thus perpetuating the cycle.

How you can help

Helping a victim of sex trafficking is complex. There is no “one size fits all” solution and every situation will be different depending on which country you are located. The guiding principles should always be “do no harm” and to act with kindness. Trauma and fear often mark the victims’ experiences. They may lack education and not speak English as their mother tongue, adding to their confusion about their whereabouts. Uncertain about how to seek help and too frightened to approach the authorities, they remain trapped in their situations. If you have engaged a woman for sex, suspect she may be a victim and offer to help, bear in mind that not paying her could put her at risk.

Taking Action

Practical things to do would be: 

    • Exchange of telephone numbers to provide a lifeline of help. 
    • Find a number for the anti-trafficking police or if not the local police department. 
    • Google for a women’s shelter and local NGOs that work with victims of human trafficking

If you have the inclination or time to assist further consider: 

    • Consider buying the victim a smart phone preferably with a SIM loaded with data. This can provide a lifeline to home and a means to navigate help. SIMs are increasingly tied to national identity so only consider this when you can cash-buy an anonymous SIM.
    • Offer to take them to the consular service of their country or give them the number and explain to them what the consular service does, many victims will have no idea how international borders work. 
    • If their passport has been confiscated by the trafficker or lost they will need an emergency travel document from the consulate. 
    • Buy them a flight ticket and give them money for travel 
    • Photograph any documents they may have on them, take details about their situation – where they are being held, where they are working, names of the traffickers and any details you can get – and make a report to the anti-trafficking authorities in their home country

Call to Action: How You Can Help

Sex workers on the streets of Dubai (AI Generated) Raising awareness in men who buy sex, is the first step toward change. By understanding and sharing the reality of “Dubai sex”  you can help dispel the myths around sex work and educate others. Educating buyers of sex about the reality of West Africans and other nationals being trafficked to Dubai for sexual exploitation can lead to greater awareness, increased victim identification and ultimately more pressure on the UAE authorities to take action. You can support organizations like the Hope Education Project in Ghana (donate) that work to educate vulnerable communities about human trafficking. 


Your initial search for ‘Dubai sex’ might have sprung from curiosity but hopefully reading this has opened your eyes to the complexities of human trafficking and the exploitation involved in sex work. By becoming aware of the signs of sex trafficking and understanding the harsh realities faced by sex workers, you are taking an important step toward being part of the solution. Your new awareness can help ensure that the allure of sex destinations like Dubai does not come at the expense of the freedom and dignity of enslaved women. Thanks for taking the time to learn about sex trafficking.