Sex Trafficking of Iraqi Women. Exposing Its Cruel Secrets
Women and children are the first casualties of war. They are the innocents, they are the vulnerable. Couple war with the shortage of women in the Middle East and Asia and you have a seething hotbed ripe for slavery, kidnapping and sex trafficking. Call it what you will. Are the "victims" ever really willing, though they are forced to "be able?"
Since the Iraqi War, thousands of women have fallen prey to sex traffickers, but the issue steeped in secrecy, corruption, religious and cultural taboos and preoccupation with other more pressing problems has rendered it a non issue. In wartime, its aftermath and in the Middle East, even though there has been an Arab Spring, it is still "a man's world." And trafficking for men can be a boon, not a bust, unless, of course, one's wife, sister or daughter has been trafficked without profit. Then it becomes a point of honor, but the woman may be blamed and gotten rid of anyway. (see movie review, Bliss)
Social Change for Education in the Middle East (SCEME) is a non profit organization that "supports the rights and civil liberties of women and children in the Middle East and Africa through education and anti-trafficking campaigns." In a recent report, it has examined the impact of war on the cultural upheaval that was Iraq and has identified the epidemic of sex trafficking of Iraqi girls as young as 10 or 12 into Middle Eastern countries like Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the UAR and Saudi Arabia.
There has been a tremendous hushed-mouthed secrecy surrounding the issue of trafficking and this is what drew Iman Abou-Atta, a clinical researcher to investigate the extent of Iraqi women's sexploitation. In a hearing before the House of Lords she presented the report entitled Karamatuna (Our Dignity) whose foreword states
"What I came across was closed doors, shame, the unwillingness of authorities of Syria and Jordan and the quietness of civil society on the issue."
According to some reports, over 50,000 Iraqi women fleeing Jordan and Syria to escape the war's chaos and aftermath, are trapped in sexual servitude with no possibility of escape. Because government restrictions prevent them from supporting themselves and their households, they have become the playthings of sex traffickers who take advantage of their vulnerability and helplessness.Continued on the next page