A Thai woman who was duped into working as a prostitute in the United Arab Emirates safely returned to Thailand on Tuesday, authorities said.
The case garnered public attention after the victim posted a video appeal on Facebook on Sept 19, which prompted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to instruct the Labour Ministry to coordinate with the Royal Thai Embassy in Abu Dhabi expedite her return.
Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said the victim — whose identity was withheld by authorities — departed Dubai at 2.50am aboard flight EK384 operated by Emirates, which landed in Bangkok at 12.30pm on Tuesday.
Mr Suchart said the ministry will help the victim to find a job in her hometown in Sa Kaeo, before adding concerned authorities will launch a probe to prosecute those who had trafficked her to the UAE.
The victim told authorities that she was invited to work as a masseuse at a spa in Dubai by a woman whom she knew only as “Ms Lilly”, who promised her commission of up to 40,000 baht a month.
She then flew to Dubai on a tourist visa on Sept 16. Upon arriving, she was brought to Ras al-Khaimah, where Ms Lilly immediately confiscated her passport and ordered her to offer sexual services to clients.
When the victim asked to be allowed to go home, Ms Lilly told her she would have to pay 70,000 baht to cover the airline ticket and other travel-related fees, authorities said. It was then when the victim decided to upload her video appeal which went viral on social media.
After Thai authorities managed to track down the victim, the parlour where she was held was then closed down. Ms Lilly then agreed to return the victim’s passport and sent the victim to Dubai International Airport.
She was then taken to the Royal Thai Consulate in Dubai.
The Labour Minister urged those who want to work overseas must do so legally, saying they must be sent by either the ministry or official recruitment firms.
They should also apply to be a member of the Labour Ministry’s overseas employment fund before departing abroad, he said.