mar0816.JPG

As criminal gangs run amuck in Iraq, hundreds of girls have gone missing. Are they being sold for sex?

Safah, 14-year-old Iraqi girl was kidnapped and imprisoned in a dark house in Baghdad’s middle-class.

It was finally settled at $10,000. Later a fake passport with her photo and assumed name had already been forged for her.

Safah is part of a seldom –discussed aspect of the epidemic of kidnappings in Iraq: Sex trafficking. 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.

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 terrorist, to run amuck.

These Iraqi women and girls being sent to Yemen, Syria, Jordan and Persian Gulf countries for sexual exploitation.

Families are usually so shamed by the disappearance of a daughter that they do not report kidnappings. And the resulting stigma of compromised chastity is such that even if the girl should resurface, she may never be taken back by her relations.

Two other girls, Asmah, 14, and Shadah, 15, were taken all the way to the United Arab Emirates before they could escape their kidnappers and report them to a Dubai police station. The sisters were then sent back to Iraq but, like many other girls who have escaped their kidnappers and buyers, were sent to prison because they carried fake passports.

The sisters hear rumor that the men paid their way out of jail and are back on the streets.

The locations are secret to keep the women safe from both trafficking gangs trying to cover their tracks and outraged relatives who may try to kill the women to restore their clans’ reputation.

The next three weeks were the worst in Safah’s life
“I was tortured and beaten and insulted a lot in that house,” Safah says.

· It was summarized of TIME, May1, 2006