A dentist in Deira, Dubai recently made a disturbing discovery. Amina (not her real name) found a collection of massage cards in her nine-year-old son's school bag, most of which advertised unlicensed and illegal massage services and featured explicit photos of women and actresses.

She was shocked to find about 30 massage cards in the side pocket of her son’s bag while cleaning it. Despite believing that her son had no ill intentions, she deemed the possession of such cards unacceptable, especially given his young age.

Amina revealed that her son seemed distressed and unable to explain why he had collected the cards. It appeared that he was unaware of the inappropriate nature of the material. He mentioned that he had seen other children collecting the cards and wanted to have a collection himself.

Residents in some areas of Dubai have been grappling with the presence of obscene massage cards scattered across pavements, streets, and residential areas.

This situation underscores the exposure of children to inappropriate images that objectify women.

Concerned parents have been discussing methods to educate their children about the hazards of picking up unknown objects. Emphasizing the importance of open communication, they aim to explain to their children why such content is inappropriate and encourage them to report any encounter with such material.

Local authorities have been proactive in addressing this issue and have imposed hefty fines for engaging in such activities. The distribution of these cards is often carried out by leaving them on car windshields, placing them in building entrances, and simply discarding them on the ground.

Notably, a significant number of massage cards were seized in Dubai in November 2022, with authorities apprehending several gangs in the emirate and in Sharjah. Furthermore, the Dubai Police confiscated 5.9 million business cards promoting illegal massage services in August 2022. In 2021 and the first three months of 2022, approximately 870 individuals were arrested for offering illicit services, with 588 facing charges for violating public morals and 309 for printing and distributing the cards.

Dr. Shaju George, a specialist psychiatrist at International Modern Hospital Dubai, explained that children typically respond to exposure to inappropriate content with either distress or curiosity. He noted that such experiences can have enduring effects on children's perception of the world, personal lives, relationships, and sexual behavior.

Psychologists urged parents to remain vigilant for any behavioral changes in their children that may indicate distress, such as increased seclusion, irregular device usage, sleep disturbances, and academic difficulties. They emphasized the crucial role of age-appropriate education on sexuality to deter children from early exposure to explicit content.

Dr. George also recommended that parents report the proliferation of explicit materials in public spaces to the relevant authorities.