to a local Baghdad brothel
TIME MAGAZINE, IRAQ - She goes by Hinda, but that's not her real name. That's what she's called by the many Iraqi sex traffickers and pimps who contact her several times a week from across the country. They think she is one of them, a peddler of sexual slaves. Little do they know that the stocky auburn-haired woman is an undercover human-rights activist who has been quietly mapping out their murky underworld since 2006.
That underworld is a place where nefarious female pimps hold sway and where impoverished mothers sell their teenage daughters into a sex market that believes females who reach the age of 20 are too old to fetch a good price. The youngest victims, some ages 11 and 12, are sold for as much as $30,000, while others can go for as little as $2,000. "The buying and selling of girls in Iraq, it's like the trade in cattle," Hinda says. "I've seen mothers haggle with agents over the price of their daughters." (See pictures of Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.)
The trafficking routes are both local and international, and most often connect to Syria, Jordan and the gulf (primarily the United Arab Emirates). The victims are trafficked either illegally on forged passports or "legally" through forced marriages. A married female, even one as young as 14, raises few suspicions if she's traveling with her "husband." The girls are then divorced upon arrival and put to work...
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