Jewish Journal

Fleeing Iraq to to be enslaved by sex trade

by Brad A. Greenberg

June 1, 2007 | 4:33 am

The Cwzy Muslima nabbed a story I missed in the NY Times: “Desperate Iraqi Refugees Turn to Sex Trade in Syria.” Iraq’s refugee crisis—maybe it should be considered the world’s crisis—is acute. More than 4 million displaced, thousands arriving in Syria each day, many hoping to make it to Europe. The U.S. has only admitted 800 since 2003, but Wednesday announced it would accept 7,000. Here is what is happening to some of the women making it to Syria.

MARABA, Syria — Back home in Iraq, Umm Hiba’s daughter was a devout schoolgirl, modest in her dress and serious about her studies. Hiba, who is now 16, wore the hijab, or Islamic head scarf, and rose early each day to say the dawn prayer before classes.

But that was before militias began threatening their Baghdad neighborhood and Umm Hiba and her daughter fled to Syria last spring. There were no jobs, and Umm Hiba’s elderly father developed complications related to his diabetes.

Desperate, Umm Hiba followed the advice of an Iraqi acquaintance and took her daughter to work at a nightclub along a highway known for prostitution. “We Iraqis used to be a proud people,” she said over the frantic blare of the club’s speakers. She pointed out her daughter, dancing among about two dozen other girls on the stage, wearing a pink silk dress with spaghetti straps, her frail shoulders bathed in colored light.

As Umm Hiba watched, a middle-aged man climbed onto the platform and began to dance jerkily, arms flailing, among the girls.

“During the war we lost everything,” she said. “We even lost our honor.”

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