Lebanon’s sex industry: hidden in plain sight

By Ben Gilbert – GlobalPost
Published: June 17, 2010 10:21 ET in Middle East

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Twenty minutes north of Beirut, in the Christian heartland of Lebanon is Jounieh, the country’s little Las Vegas, where dozens of “super nightclubs,” Lebanon’s equivalent of strip clubs, line the main street.

Inside one club, called Excalibur, a young woman from the Dominican Republic wore white denim-shorts cut just below the crotch, stiletto heels and a tight T-shirt that stopped just above her navel. She also wore braces on her teeth.

She was in Lebanon legally, classified by immigration authorities as an “artist,” owing to the fact that she dances on stage at some point during the night. About 4000 Ukrainian, Russian and Moroccan women like her come to Lebanon every year to work in Lebanon’s adult entertainment industry, of which the estimated 130 super nightclubs in the country are a staple. Continue reading

Syria: Dancing for Their Lives

Dancing for Their Lives
Making an undercover visit to an Iraqi expat nightclub in Syria, where the refugee crisis’s illicit economy is on full display.

Um Nour checked her watch. It was close to midnight and my guide to the Iraqi refugee underworld in Damascus wanted to get to the nightclub so she could start making money. I had failed the dress test, attempting to camouflage myself in an alluring outfit and eliciting only a pursed-lips stare, but Um Nour’s transformation was remarkable. I would not have recognized her on the street. On the many daytime occasions we had met during my reporting trips to Damascus in 2008, she dressed in baggy track pants, black hair tied back in a ponytail, her face lined and tired. This time, her long black hair was shiny and brushed with thick bangs that framed her face. She wore a tight-fitting black T-shirt sprinkled with sequins and black stretch pants tightly cinched at the waist. Her lipstick was deep red, her eyeliner heavy and black. She wore two rhinestone rings, her stubby fingers extended by fake red nails curled around an expensive cell phone. Continue reading

Ignored by society, Afghan dancing boys suffer centuries-old tradition

By Atia Abawi, CNN
October 27, 2009 — Updated 1721 GMT (0121 HKT)

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — A young boy dressed in women’s clothing, his face caked in make-up, dances the night away for a crowd of men.

The bells on his feet chime away, mimicking the entertainment and sexual appeal of female dancers. But there is no mistaking his pubescent body and face as he concentrates, focusing on every step in order to please his master and his master’s guests.

This all played out in a video that CNN obtained from a person involved in the parties.

The boy is but one youth among many throughout the country forced into an age-old underground tradition known as “bacha bazi,” or “boy play,” in which young boys are taken from their families, made to dance and used as sex slaves by powerful men. The number of boys involved is unknown — the practice has been going on for centuries, in a country where such practices are overshadowed by conflict and war. Continue reading

WOMEN: Dubai, New Destination on Trafficking Map

By Claudia Ciobanu

BUCHAREST, Jun 29 (IPS) – On May 26, the U.S.-based Center for Investigative Reporting published ‘The Price of Sex’, a vast multi-media project by photojournalist Mimi Chakarova who spent nearly seven years doggedly unraveling the web of sex trafficking.

Chakarova has charted hundreds of journeys across countries in Europe and to the tiny emirate of Dubai in the Gulf, where the sex trade is booming, seemingly condoned by authorities, according to a rights activist. The Bulgarian photojournalist currently lives and works in the U.S. Continue reading

Afghanistan: Finnish-Funded Prison Turns Brothel?

published May 6 08:54 PM, updated May 8 11:32 AM

Finnish officials suspect that a new women’s prison in northern Afghanistan, built through Finnish money and political will, may have been turned into a brothel.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs suspects that inmates may have been forced to sexually service guards, employees and their guests.

“We suspect that the prison’s top managers are involved, but we haven’t confirmed this, as inquiries into the matter are still ongoing,” says Rauli Suikkanen, a counsellor at the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Asian and Oceanic Affairs. Continue reading

Sex workers in Greater Tehran 2008


by Azadeh Azad

The sex trade is a growing industry in Iran, especially in Greater Tehran. Yet, there is not much field research being carried out on this subject. The reason is twofold. First, the official discourse of the Islamic State in Iran continues to deny the existence of the sex trade in the country, which leads to unwillingness by various Islamic governments to bring up this subject or to initiate and support related research. Second, social researchers are facing many difficulties in undertaking research because of the above lack of support as well as the specific characteristics of this profession in Iran: its illegality and the harsh punishments that await arrested sex workers as well as its veiled and clandestine nature.

Sex workers, alongside other clandestine groups whose activities Continue reading

Taliban slays women for “prostitution”

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Viewer discretion is advised.


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