In her article, published by Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency on August 27, Rebecca Murray noted how prostitution and sex trafficking have become “epidemic in Iraq” during the post-invasion military occupation of the country by US-led forces.
In the past eight years, the country has been witnessing unrelenting violence and deadly terror attacks which smashed “national institutions, impoverished the population and torn apart families and neighborhoods.”
“Wars and conflicts, wherever they are fought, invariably usher in sickeningly high level of violence against women and girls,” Murray cited an Amnesty International statement as saying.
The article told the story of Rania, who fell victim of Iraqi officials’ sexual assault at 16, during a 1991 brutal crackdown on Iraq’s Shia south by executed dictator Saddam Hussein.
Outcast Rania escaped to Baghdad and ended up as a sex trafficker’s deputy after living and working in Baghdad’s brothels for a while.
She describes female trafficking a lucrative business in Iraq, saying many virgin teenage girls are sold for around 5,000 dollars, and trafficked to destinations like northern Iraq, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.
After being arrested six years ago by US forces on charges of abetting terrorism, Rania was sent to jail in Baghdad’s al-Kadimiyah detention and finally ended up as an undercover researcher for a women support group she got to know in prison.
In one of her harrowing findings, Rania and two other girls discovered a house in Baghdad’s al-Jihad district, where girls as young as 16 were held to cater exclusively to the US military personnel.
The brothel’s owner told Rania that an Iraqi interpreter employed by the Americans served as the dealer, transporting girls to and from the US airport base.
Before the Persian Gulf War in 1991, Iraq enjoyed the highest female literacy rate across the Middle East, and more Iraqi women were employed in skilled professions, like medicine and education, than in any other country in the region.
Norwegian Church Aid report last year highlighted “the US-led war and the chaos it has generated” among other factors giving rise to mounting prostitution in Iraq.