Sunday, January 6, 2008

Syria: Iraqi Refugees Turn to Sex Trade

Damascus, Syria

DAMASCUS, SYRIA -- A score of young Iraqi women in tight, shimmering gowns shuffle across the nightclub dance floor under the hungry eyes of Gulf Arabs at nearby tables.

The band blasts out Iraqi songs into the early hours as the watching youths join the dancing or summon girls to sit with them -- there is little pretence about what gets transacted at this neon-lit nightspot half an hour's drive north of Damascus.

The dancers, some in their early teens, do not want to talk, but one said she had no other way to support her family. "My father was killed in Baghdad and our money is finished," muttered the dark-haired girl in a black and silver dress.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR calls it "survival sex", a desperate way to cope for Iraqi refugees whose savings have run out since they escaped the violence at home.

The idea repels many of the 1.5 million Iraqis in Syria, but the struggle to make ends meet has forced some to share tiny apartments with other families in the slums of Damascus, put their children out to work or marry off teenaged daughters...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Reuters.com

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