Sex Trafficking in Iraq and Syria

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According to this Guardian Unlimited article:

Um Ahmad, as she was known to the girls, had it all planned out. From Baghdad to the border and on to Damascus and a new life, Mona and her three Iraqi friends didn’t need to worry about a thing.

The job in the textiles factory outside the Syrian capital would pay $300 ( £160) a month, travel for the long journey was already arranged, a place for the girls to stay was ready and waiting and – best of all – Um Ahmad would pay Mona’s father one month’s salary in advance.

For the 26-year-old eldest daughter of eight children whose parents faced a daily despair of car bombs and poverty in their Baghdad slum, the offer sounded too good to be true.

It was.

Within a week of arriving in Damascus, Mona – whose name has been changed to protect her identity – had been plied with alcohol by Um Ahmad, required to dance for “friends of the factory owner” and had lost her virginity.

Unable to return to her family due to the perceived shame she had brought upon them, Mona began her new life in Syria as a prostitute working for Um Ahmad, dancing in bars outside Damascus and having sex with clients. …

…Before April 2003 the number of Iraqis in Syria was estimated at 100,000. Last week UNHCR chief spokesman Ron Redmond said that each month some 40,000 Iraqis are now arriving in Syria, a country of only 19 million people.

The UNHCR report found that prostitution among young Iraqi women in Syria, some just 12 years old, “may become a more widespread problem since the economic situation of Iraqi families is increasingly deteriorating”.

“Organised networks dealing with the sex trade were reported,” it said, finding evidence that “girls and women were trafficked by organised networks or family members”. …

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