50,000 Iraqi refugee women and girls forced into prostitution

Posted on July 18, 2007

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Women and girls, many alarmingly young, who fled the chaos at home are being further betrayed after reaching ‘safety’ in Syria

By Nihal Hassan in Damascus

Published: 24 June 2007, The Independent, U.K.

It’s Monday night in a dingy club on the outskirts of the Syrian capital. Two dozen girls are moving half-heartedly on the dance floor, lit up by flashing disco lights.

They are dessed in tight jeans, low-cut tops and knee-high boots, but the girls’ make-up can’t disguise the fact that most are in their mid-teens. It’s a strange sight in a conservative Muslim country, but this is the sex business, and it’s booming as a result of the war in Iraq.

Backstage, the manager sits in his leather chair, doing business. A Saudi client is quoted $500 for one of the girls. Eventually he beats it down to $300. Next door, in a dimly lit room, the next shift of girls arrives, taking off the black all-covering abayas they wear outside and putting on lipstick and mascara.

To judge from the cars parked outside, the clients come from all over the Gulf region – many are young Saudi men escaping from an even more conservative moral climate. But the Syrian friend who has brought me here tells me that 95 per cent of the girls are Iraqi.

Most are unwilling to talk, but Zahra, an attractive girl with a bare midriff and tattoos, tells me she’s 16. [more]

Please click here to read the article from the U.K. Newspaper, the Independent.

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