On January 14, authorities in Mumbai arrested five people, including a couple, suspected of engaging in sex racketing and human trafficking between Bahrain and India. The suspects acted as intermediaries by recruiting girls online with promises of employment in Bahrain. Reportedly, after reaching Bahrain, the women were threatened and coerced into prostitution. Authorities accused two members of the same ring of trafficking 63 women to Bahrain over an 18-month period. However, the Indian police investigation has been halted due to the Bahraini government’s alleged non-cooperation. The investigation can only continue if the Bahraini government assists the investigation by identifying the victims.

Despite legal improvements and governmental efforts, human and sex trafficking is an ongoing problem in Bahrain. In 2015, the United States upgraded Bahrain’s human trafficking status from Tier 3 to Tier 2 following improvements. Despite this, the State Department’s Bahrain Trafficking-In-Persons Report details a number of systemic flaws in Bahrain’s practices. Bahrain has not, despite past commitments and pledges, abolished the Kafala sponsorship system, which greatly contributes to forced labor and debt bondage. Nor has the government made efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex or forced labor. Because of these and other flaws, a 2014 report by Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) recommends that the US downgrade Bahrain to Tier 3 in recognition of the “expanding nature of the human trafficking problem.” As Bahrain attempts to improve its record on human and sex trafficking, its non-cooperation with Indian authorities over this latest case appears puzzling, particularly due to the widespread nature of this case.

 

Tyler Pry is an Advocacy Intern at Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

Photo courtesy of News of Bahrain