ABOVE PHOTO: Amna, 18, says she was sent to work in brothels in three cities. (Photo credit: YURI KOZYREV FOR TIME)
In an April 23rd Time Magazine article, Brian Bennett reports from Baghdad that hundreds of Iraqi girls have gone missing as criminal gangs expand throughout this country made chaotic by war.
In his article, Bennett identifies sex trafficking in Iraq as an urgent and growing problem:
No one knows how many young women have been kidnapped and sold since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq, based in Baghdad, estimates from anecdotal evidence that more than 2,000 Iraqi women have gone missing in that period. A Western official in Baghdad who monitors the status of women in Iraq thinks that figure may be inflated but admits that sex trafficking, virtually nonexistent under Saddam, has become a serious issue. The collapse of law and order and the absence of a stable government have allowed criminal gangs, alongside terrorists, to run amuck. Meanwhile, some aid workers say, bureaucrats in the ministries have either paralyzed with red tape or frozen the assets of charities that might have provided refuge for these girls. As a result, sex trafficking has been allowed to fester unchecked.