Iraqi Refugees Forced into Prostitution - 08.04.2008

VIDEO - Damascus, Syria - The situation in Iraq forced many Iraqis to flee to nearby countries such as Syria and Jordan. Many of them fled between the years 2003 and late 2007. When a family flees to one of the nearby countries, often part of the family will remain in Iraq to provide money and financial support.

Many families send the father or a brother back to Iraq to help them collect money and support their life in Damascus or Amman. The reason behind that is Iraqis are not allowed to work in those countries, the only visa the are permitted to apply for is the tourist visa, and if you will look at the visa stamp which says “Not allowed to work.”

Unfortunately, some fathers and brothers returned to Iraq and they never came back, either killed or kidnapped or detained somewhere, families were forced to return to Iraq because they cannot afford living in Syria or Jordan any more, and some remained rather than returning to the potential dangers in Iraq.

Some families were lucky and found a job “under the table” that helped them to remain in their new country and to afford living in the lowest life standards. Others were forced to take difficult or unappealing jobs that do not cover all their expenses. Iraqis without sponsors were forced to do work that no human would wish to do, such a working in drug trafficking or prostitution. Some of the sex workers are under the age of 16, those sex workers are afraid of being hunted down by their families in Iraq for the work they performed in Syria or Jordan, and at the same time they are afraid of being deported from their new country. Some sex workers committed suicide, and a number of them began to consider doing the same.

In Damascus the average payment for sex workers is approximately 500 Syrian Pounds (10 US dollars) to 1000 Syrian Pounds (20 US dollars) per night. The customers are from all different nationalities, others get paid much less, even just 100 Syrian Pounds (2 US Dollars) to 250 Syrian Pounds (5 US Dollars) which is barely enough money for food.

Alive in Baghdad has been informed that in several cases a sex worker has been killed after returning to Baghdad. Many militias such as the Islamic Army decided on killing some of them because they consider prostitution to be a great sin and the punishment is death.

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