7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Bid to curb women's visas blocked

PARLIAMENT blocked an attempt by a group of MPs to tighten visa rules for Russian, Thai, Ethiopian and Chinese women to combat prostitution.

Al Asala bloc proposed an urgent curb on women from these countries, saying they made up the majority of prostitutes. It wanted the proposal to be sent to the Cabinet for immediate action.

Other MPs acknowledged that prostitution was on the rise, but said the proposal should be discussed with the Interior Ministry without the mention of any nationalities.

They said instead of going after the victims, they must focus on tackling human trafficking.

The MPs said it was an opportunity to listen to ministry officials on the issue and get the related statistics.

Independent MP Dr Aziz Abul said attacks on nationalities would have repercussions on Bahrainis visiting these countries.

"We have ties with these countries and making such allegations, even if true, means that we dislike them. There are other nationalities involved. Why are those excluded? Parliament financial and economic affairs committee chairman Abduljalil Khalil said Al Asala bloc was attacking the prey and leaving the predator.

"We should be looking for ways to combat having such women trafficked to Bahrain.

"Ministry officials should be called to give us an insight into what they have done to combat sleaze and give us figures. I see no logic in asking the government to tighten visa rules.

"There are respectable women from these countries who work in companies, restaurants or as maids." Services committee chairman and Al Menbar MP Dr Ali Ahmed said one of the countries mentioned was probing women being trafficked to Bahrain.

"They don't accept what is happening and are taking measures to ensure their women are not brought here. I was present when they discussed the issue in their parliament.

The MPs were backed by Minister of State for Parliament and Shura Council Affairs Abdulaziz Al Fadhel, who promised that the Interior Ministry would discuss the issue with parliament. He proposed that the duty could be carried out by parliament's foreign affairs, defence and national security panel.

However, Al Asala MPs demanded that the issue is referred to the Cabinet.

"We are bombarded with calls from people complaining about these nationalities in particular and numbers on the street speak for themselves, so why wait for the Interior Ministry?" asked Al Asala MP Abdulhaleem Murad.

"Everything is clear. The Interior Ministry will in the end agree that rules for visit and work visas to these nationalities should be tightened."

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