News headlines


Women escape from forced life as prostitutes

Dubai - Oct. 29:: Two women who were duped into coming to the UAE on the pretext of being offered jobs and then forced into prostitution managed to escape from their "agents" yesterday.

A man who encountered them near the Kuwaiti Roundabout in Sharjah and asking motorists for a ride took them to the Sharjah Indian Association from where they were taken to the Indian consulate's shelter in Dubai.

"We were forced to entertain 23 to 25 men a day. I have three children back home and I came here to work as a cleaner. I have not been paid at all. I am also scared ... what if I have contracted some disease," one of the women told Gulf News.

"I have got in touch with the Department of Non-Resident Indian Affairs in Kerala as well as the Indian Minister for Overseas Affairs Vayalar Ravi and gave details about the two women who were brought here on the pretext of being given jobs," said K.A Mathews, president of the Indian Association Sharjah.


Mathews said the women, both Indians, did not fly directly from Kerala to the UAE but came via a neighbouring country.

In a written statement to the association, the women ages 31 and 32, said they were married and had come to the UAE on September 10 on a visit visa.

The visas were provided by a travel agent for Indian rupees 10,000 (about Dh800) each. The agents whom they dealt with in Kerala had promised them jobs as cleaners in a hospital in the UAE.

One of the women said the news of her father's death forced her to revolt against the agents.

"Since I came here I have not called home, so one of the agent's men whose job was to guard us took pity on me and gave his mobile phone to me. I telephoned home only to hear my father had died.

"I desperately wanted to go home and asked the agent to give me my passport back. But he refused."

They were kept in a flat in Sharjah.

Ten days ago the women refused to entertain any more men. As punishment they were taken to a building near the Kuwaiti Roundabout and locked in a flat.

"For the first couple of the days the agents' men came with food, but later their visits stopped. Left alone, we planned our escape. We came across a screwdriver... slowly we unscrewed the lock and got out of the flat early in the morning. All along we kept our fingers crossed no one would come to the flat," said one of the women.



Cheaper calls to favourite phone numbers

Dubai - Oct. 29: etisalat has announced two new services for mobile phone users.

The first service offers customers reduced-rate calls when dialling their favourite numbers, while the other will offer cheaper SMS packages.

Subscribers can register for "favourite number offer" which allows them to register a local and an international number for which they will be charged off-peak rates throughout the day. This service is valid between November 5 and December 4.

Customers can register by sending an SMS to 1010 in the format r fn <00(country code)(area code)(international destination number) >. The offer is valid for all GSM and Wasel customers.

Payment options

The second service, National and International SMS Packages, to be introduced shortly, will offer reduced charges for sending SMS.

The National SMS Package will have five payment options with Package 1 offering 25 messages for Dh5, Package 2 offering 50 messages for Dh9, Package 3 offering 100 messages for Dh17, Package 4 offering 300 messages for Dh50, and Package 5 offering 1,000 messages for Dh150.

Customers who do not subscribe to the five packages will continue to be charged the normal SMS rate of 30 fils per message.

The International Package will have four payment options with Package 1 offering 20 messages for Dh13, Package 2 offering 30 messages for Dh18, Package 3 offering 50 messages for Dh27, and Package 4 offering 100 messages for Dh50. The international SMS rate of 90 fils per message will be applied to those who do not subscribe to the packages.


Make people belt up in the back of a car

Dubai - Oct. 29: Given the driving standards here, it is surprising that anyone would risk going out on the roads without wearing a seat belt.

However, an online poll by Gulf News found that some people do fail to belt up when they get in a car.

Of the respondents, 85 per cent said they always used a seat belt, while 11 per cent said they only used one sometimes and four per cent admitted to never using one.

City Talk spoke to a cross-section of Dubai residents to find out what they did and also asked whether it should be compulsory to use a seat belt in the back of a car.

Indian van driver Arshad Abdul Rahman, 23, said he always uses a seat belt when driving and gets his front seat passengers to use one as well.

However, he said when he is sitting in the back seat of a car, he does not use a belt, adding: "People don't like to use the seat belt in the back. People only use it in the front because the police will fine them if they don't."

Sri Lankan sales executive Thusitha Kadiragonne, 25, gave a similar view, saying: "If I sit in the back I don't put it on. For the people in the front, it is very protective, but in the back it's OK [not to use it] as there is not much danger."

Filipina shop supervisor Emily Caswell, 34, said she wears a seat belt only when she is travelling in the front of a car.

"Wearing in the back is only for children. In the back I don't use it but my daughter does," she said.

She said she did not think using a seat belt in the back seat should be made compulsory.

Rehman Shaikh, 35, a sales manager from India, wears a seat belt in the front but not in the back.

However, he said he would be happy if rules were tightened to make belting up in the back a must. "Yes, they should make a law for this," he said.

Lebanese engineer Richard Bechalany, said he does not always put the seat belt on immediately.

"Sometimes when it's too hot I wait for the car to get a bit cooler [before putting on the seat belt]. I never put it on if I'm in the back. I think it's not that dangerous because you have the front seat to protect you," he said. "Maybe if it's children under 12 years old yes they should have to wear it."

Australian journalist Max Simon, 28, said "it goes without saying" that he uses a seat belt whether in the front or back of a car. When asked whether it should be made illegal to travel in the back of a car without wearing a seat belt, he answered: "Of course. You should use a seat belt whenever you travel in a car no matter what your age or where you sit in the car. It's ludicrous not to," he said.

Mohammad Riyaz, 28, a courier from India, also uses a seat belt regardless of whether he is travelling in the front or the back. Like Simon, he would favour new rules that outlawed travelling in the back without wearing a seat belt.

UAE national Abdullah Al Daboos, 44, an aircraft engineer, also supported a ban on travelling without a seat belt in the back.

"The law should make the person sitting in the car responsible not the driver. That's the best way of doing it," he said.

Gulf News asked: While driving or as a passenger, when do you wear the seat belt?

"If I sit in the back I don't put it on ... in the front, it is very protective, but in the back ... there is not much danger."
Thusitha Kadiragonne

"The law should make the person sitting in the car responsible not the driver. That's the best way of doing it."
Abdullah Al Daboos

"Wearing [seat belt] in the back is only for children. In the back I don't use it but my daughter does."
Emily Caswell

"You should use a seat belt whenever you travel in a car no matter what your age or where you sit in the car."  Max Simon


Ogling men 'are putting us off playing netball'

Dubai - Oct. 29: Angry netball players say men, who have been spotted touching themselves inappropriately while watching them play matches, could jeopardise the future of a popular sport in Dubai.

The women claim the men hide in the shadows and behind skips and fences around the two outdoor courts at the Dubai Exiles Rugby Club.

Women's netball in Dubai is played by women of all nationalities. With 19 teams in the league and four match nights a week the well-established sport has grown rapidly over the past 30 years. More than 80 women take to the courts four nights of each week to play matches alone.

Members of the Dubai Netball Committee as well as representatives from the Exiles Rugby Club say the problem has been getting worse over the past few months and that something must now be done.

One woman has been banned from playing netball by her husband after he watched a man touching himself while following his wife around the netball court with his eyes.

Player and umpire Elizabeth Davies says the problem has escalated over the past few months. She says in a matter of months she experienced two incidents first-hand and feels anything which could be done to correct the problem would be welcome by all.


"Whilst waiting to umpire a netball match I was in my car in the parking area. I was on the phone so not particularly concentrating on anything until a gentleman caught my gaze. He was behind a skip close to the courts and behaving inappropriately.

"Shocked at the public display in an area where young children come to watch their parents play, as well where schoolgirls and adult women play I approached him to tell him to stop and go away. Before I could get close enough he ran off. I later saw him watching another match. I reported this to the Exiles staff who acknowledged that this was an ongoing problem."

She added: "The other issue is being harassed by these people. One night I noticed a young guy leaning against my car whilst I was training. Jokingly I asked him to move.

"On returning to my car 30 minutes later he was hanging around and my previous comment must have been taken as an invitation to bombard me with personal questions such as do I have a boyfriend, how long have I been in Dubai, how long have I played netball...

"I practically had to jam his hand in the door to get him to back off... As a player and umpire it is very off-putting to be stared at from the sidelines to the point of feeling quite self-conscious and totally uncomfortable about what these gentlemen are thinking about whilst they watch.

Secretly undressed

"Nothing is ever said by them but it feels like you are being secretly undressed by their eyes. I will also think twice about chatting with any spectators in future."

Kelly Cook, Chairwoman of the Dubai Netball Committee. said: "We are communicating with the staff at the Exiles to see if anything can be done to monitor the men coming into the rugby ground, however we also feel with so many sporting activities going on each night, this will be almost impossible.

"It is difficult to single people out and we cannot make wild accusations against people who may be there to watch the games."

A skilful team game

Netball is a fast, skilful team game based on running, jumping, throwing and catching. Teams may include up to 12 players but only 7 may take the court at any one time.

The major aim of the game is to score as many goals as is possible from within an area called the goal circle. Only two players from each team may score goals, the goal attack and goal shooter. The ball is made of leather, rubber or similar material, weighing 400 to 450 grams. The court is divided into thirds. There is a centre circle with a diameter of 0.9 metres and two goal circles which are semi-circles measuring 4.9 metres in radius. A game consists of 4 x 15 minute quarters with an interval of 3 minutes between the first and second and third and fourth quarters and a 5 minute half-time interval.





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