Muscat: Pimps were hunting for business on the streets of Muscat less than 24 hours after news broke of police raids to rescue 21 Thai girls from the sex trade.
Expat pimps are operating brazenly from as early as 8am every day, approaching males in the street and asking if they would like a “fresh girl”.
WATCH: Times of Oman exposes peddlers selling girls on streets
Local residents including female paramedics going to work are propositioned because the pimps attract expat workers looking to buy sex.
A Royal Oman Police (ROP) spokesman cautioned against using these services and advised all citizens and residents to report apartments being used as brothels.
The Shura Council member who represents the area where the pimps operate has called on the government to monitor females making regular trips to the country on tourist visas.
The pimps in Ruwi area, starting early morning, offer sexual services to men passing by.
Their usual gathering point is near a taxi stand in Ruwi, the central business district of the Sultanate’s capital.
Less than 24 hours after news broke of a Royal Oman Police raid in Al Khuwair which freed 21 Thai women from a brothel, the Times of Oman found that sex racket agents in Ruwi are openly on the hunt for potential customers.
Read here: Royal Oman Police rescues 21 Thai sex workers
On Tuesday morning at around 8:50am, Times of Oman found that pimps are offering girls from different nationalities at a rate ranging from OMR10 to OMR40.
A pimp and his friend told the reporter, who posed as a potential customer, that he can supply Keralite, Indian, Bangladeshi and Filipina girls.
“It is just nearby. The place is safe. Girls are good. There are no issues. If we want to go now we can or whenever as you like,” the pimp said.
“Girls are of 21 and 22 age...Keralite girls are also available...,” the pimp added.
When Times of Oman reported the Al Khuwair raid story, many posted on Times of Oman Facebook page that the trade is happening in Ruwi also.
“In Ruwi also so many are running brothels... please check Ruwi area,” a reader posted.
A local resident said that it is quite difficult to walk in the area, especially during the evenings.
“Pimps approach and check with us whether we want girls or not. It is quite annoying and sometimes frightening too,” the resident said, adding that on Fridays it’s a big problem as the area will be flooded with workers from camps coming to the locality reportedly looking for agents and agents hunting for potential customers.
“Sometimes, they even dare to come and hold us by hand asking whether we need girls or not,” the resident added.
A paramedic staying in the same area and working in a nearby hospital said that she is frightened to walk through the area.
“We walk in groups. It is quite uncomfortable to live in that area. We are looking for a different location,” the paramedic said.
“We feel embarrassed the way they stare at us,” she added.
A senior official from ROP said that if people come across such cases they should inform them.
“If people come to know that an apartment is rented out solely to be used for such activities, then they should inform us,” the official added.
Twenty-one Thai nationals were rescued from two brothels in Muscat after joint raids by the Royal Oman Police (ROP) and Thai police officers. Three Thai women charged with running the brothels were also arrested, according to police.
A police squad from Thailand flew to Oman last Tuesday and liaised with ROP officers before the raids on Thursday. The women had entered Oman on tourist visas.
Tawfiq Al Lawati, the Majlis Al Shura member from Muttrah Constituency which Ruwi comes under, said that law enforcement should deploy more undercover officers to monitor the situation and nab the culprits.
“More undercover officers should be put in force. And also, government agencies should keep a tab on those who visit Oman frequently on tourist visas. If somebody is visiting Oman on tourist visas frequently, then they should be put under surveillance,” the Shura member added.
According to the Omani Penal Code Article 220, anyone who incites, by coercion or menace, a person to commit debauchery or prostitution shall be sentenced to imprisonment for three to five years. If the victim is under 18 years, the sentence shall not be less than five years.
Article 221 says anyone whose living is based, in whole or in part, on a third party’s earnings from debauchery or prostitution, either under his protection or influence, shall be sentenced to imprisonment from three months to three years and fine from OMR20 to 100.
Article 222 says that the same penalty as above shall be applicable to any person who manages a place for debauchery or prostitution or assists in its establishments or management. A sub-clause for the same article states that anyone who practices debauchery or prostitution against payment or not shall be sentenced to imprisonment from three months to two years.
The Times of Oman has handed a dossier of evidence to Royal Oman Police.