Iraqi refugees, in dire straits, turn to Syrian sex trade
Published: Monday May 28, 2007
Print This  Email This

With no jobs and no money, many female Iraqi refugees in Syria have turned to prostitution to survive, reports the New York Times.

"Many of these women and girls, including some barely in their teens, are recent refugees," writes Katherine Zoepf. "Some are tricked or forced into prostitution, but most say they have no other means of supporting their families."

Excerpts from the article follow:


According to the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, about 1.2 million Iraqi refugees now live in Syria; the Syrian government puts the figure even higher.

Given the deteriorating economic situation of those refugees, a United Nations report found last year, many girls and women in “severe need” turn to prostitution, in secret or even with the knowledge or involvement of family members. In many cases, the report added, “the head of the family brings clients to the house.”

Aid workers say thousands of Iraqi women work as prostitutes in Syria, and point out that as violence in Iraq has increased, the refugee population has come to include more female-headed households and unaccompanied women.

"So many of the Iraqi women arriving now are living on their own with their children because the men in their families were killed or kidnapped," said Sister Marie-Claude Naddaf, a Syrian nun at the Good Shepherd convent in Damascus, which helps Iraqi refugees.