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Prostitution in Iraq

Two Iraqi mothers tell CNN they turned to prostitution to help feed their children: "It's a taboo that no one is speaking about," says Yanar Mohammed, head and founder of the Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq, and adds:

"There is a huge population of women who were the victims of war who had to sell their bodies, their souls and they lost it all. It crushes us to see them, but we have to work on it and that's why we started our team of women activists." Her team pounds the streets of Baghdad looking for these victims often too humiliated to come forward.
"Most of the women that we find at hospitals [who] have tried to commit suicide" have been involved in prostitution, said Basma Rahim, a member of Mohammed's team. The team's aim is to compile information on specific cases and present it to Iraq's political parties -- to have them, as Mohammed puts it, "come tell us what [they] are ... going to do about this."
Rahim tells the heartbreaking story of one woman they found who lives in a room with three of her children: "She has sex while her three children are in the room, but she makes them stand in separate corners." According to Rahim and Mohammed, most of the women they encounter say they are driven to prostitution by a desperate desire for survival in the dangerously violent and unforgiving circumstances in Iraq.
Can you imagine anything worse? Are family and government safety nets not working anymore? Why isn't there (more) support for widows? Why can't coalition forces and the Iraqi army hand out enough food for all hungry women and children?



Al Jazeera English does not have the answer, but points out:

Prior to the US invasion, Iraqi widows, particularly those who lost husbands during the Iran-Iraq war, were provided with compensation and free education for their children. In some cases, they were provided with free homes. However, no such safety nets currently exist and widows have few resources at their disposal. (...)
Although few reliable statistics are available on the total number of widows in Iraq, the ministry of women's affairs says that there are at least 350,000 in Baghdad alone, with more than eight million throughout the country.
As Iraqi families continue to fall on hard times, some have been forced to make the most painful of decisions - selling their daughters. Abu Ahmed, a handicapped father of five who is himself a widower, sold his daughter Lina to an Iraqi man who came to Iraq to "shop" for sex workers. Abu Ahmed said he could not afford to buy food for his other children.

The Independent  writes about prostitution by refugees in Syria:

There are more than a million Iraqi refugees in Syria, many are women whose husbands or fathers have been killed. Banned from working legally, they have few options outside the sex trade. No one knows how many end up as prostitutes, but Hana Ibrahim, founder of the Iraqi women's group Women's Will, puts the figure at 50,000.

In June 2007, the Atlantic Review wrote about Iraqi refugees turning to sex trade in Syria and asked: More Terrorism to Expect due to "Lost Honor" of Iraqi Sunnis?

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Pat Patterson on :

So the rise of prostitution in Iraq and Afghanistan, another report via CNN a few years ago, is a tragedy but it is a regulated and sometimes unionized life-style choice in Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and the desperate to be European Turkey?

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

What's your point? "She has sex while her three children are in the room, but she makes them stand in separate corners." Lifestyle choice? I very much doubt this happens in Western Europe.

Pat Patterson on :

I think you would be horribly surprised to know what prostitutes are forced to do in Europe. The point being that if prostitutions is obviously demeaning in one part of the world then why does the practice have the impratur of governments and society at large in some Western countries?

Anonymous on :

"I think you would be horribly surprised to know what prostitutes are forced to do in Europe." Every bit of information would horribly surprise me since I know nothing. But you also might be surprised about the situation. There is a lot of misinformation out there. For instance stuff by Representative Smith (see link below). In Europe and the US the question is whether the legalization of prostitution improves the situation of these women or not. The German government (and most people) believe that legalization is better than having it illegal. Some discussion here: [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/311-Congressman-Accuses-Germany-of-Complicity-in-Promoting-Sex-Trafficking-UPDATE.html[/url] In Iraq it is different. Prostitution is certainly not a choice and there is zero protection for the women. You can't compare Iraq and Germany here.

Zyme on :

In Europe it is a profession, a legal service like running a tourist office. They are integrated into the legal framework, have to pay taxes and so forth. So it is their choice. I think this is the main difference to prostitution in Iraq as being described here.

Sue on :

No matter where they are or who they are, the vast majority of those engaged in prostitution would rather be doing something else for a living. Even in stable wealthy countries, prostitution is mostly the resort of the desperate, a few vocal "sex worker" advocates notwithstanding. Many prostitutes in the wealthy West, for example, have drug problems and need quick cash they can't get in any other way. Who would feel neutral about your parent, sibling or child adopting the world's oldest profession? It's a sign of social and family breakdown no matter where it's found.

Zyme on :

You are right of course. So it would be more appropriate to say that the profession of prostitution is MORE of a choice in the modern world.

Don S on :

"Can you imagine anything worse?" Ummmm - yes. And so could you if you take a moment to think about it., Being run feet-first through a trash-shredder strikes me as worse. Being tortured to death strikes me as worse. I'm referring to what went on at Abu Ghraib. Not the famous story of Abu Ghraib which seemingly continously makes the front pages in Germany - but the previous Abu Ghraib which German journalists didn't report much and still don't mention very much - not considering the scale of the horror anyway. The one which existed prior to 2003, I mean. But i suppose it's a matter of taste. A slow deadening with some hope of redemption (at least for the children) as opposed to a fast and extremely painful one with no hope at all.

Don S on :

Al-Jahzeerah: "Prior to the US invasion, Iraqi widows, particularly those who lost husbands during the Iran-Iraq war, were provided with compensation and free education for their children. In some cases, they were provided with free homes. However, no such safety nets currently exist and widows have few resources at their disposal." Ah that saintly man Saddam Hussein. I note no mention was made of widows made by gassing attacks in Kurdistan or widows whose husbands disappeared into Abu Ghraib - did they get pensions also? One wonders..... But perhaps that was no problem. Perhaps the widos disappeared also? Except for a pair of very prominent widows who were made in the mid 90's. Weren't two of Saddam's daughters suddenly widowed in that time frame? It doesn't bear thinking what presumably happened to their beloved hubbys however - so let's not..... ;)

Zyme on :

embittered jugdement of the past won´t be of any use for the future..

Bob on :

Gee, why don't the kids just go outside and play soccer?

Arros on :

Yeah prostitutes!

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