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.
BY DEBORAH AMOS | MARCH 9, 2010

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

Claim: Blackwater Billed US for ‘Morale Welfare Recreation’ Provided by Prostitute

Two former employees have accused Blackwater Worldwide of defrauding the government for years with phony billing, including charging for a prostitute, alcohol and spa trips.
February 11, 2010 |

The world’s oldest profession may have been subsidized by the US government during the war on terror.

“Two former employees of Blackwater Worldwide have accused the private security contractor of defrauding the government for years with phony billing, including charging for a prostitute, alcohol and spa trips,” Carol D. Leonnig reports for the Washington Post.

The article continues, “In newly unsealed court records, a husband and wife who once worked for Blackwater said they had personal knowledge of the company falsifying invoices, double-billing federal agencies and charging the government Continue reading

Secrets of Sexual Forced Labour in Nazi Concentration Camps

Tuesday, 30 June 2009
by Kathryn Hadley

I have vivid memories of a school trip to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg, 35 kilometres north of Berlin: the crematories, the so-called ‘Station Z’ built for the extermination of prisoners in 1942, the infirmary… I have no recollection, however, of the camp brothel.

Robert Sommer’s latest book The Concentration Camp Bordello: Sexual Forced Labor in National Socialistic Concentration Camps (Das KZ-Bordell) provides, however, for the first time a comprehensive study of this dark, hushed-up and largely ignored chapter of the history of Nazi Germany. Sommer is a cultural studies Continue reading

Taliban slays women for “prostitution”

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Viewer discretion is advised.

http://womenagainstshariah.blogspot.com/2008/08/taliban-slays-women-for-prostitution.html

Afghanistan: Defending freedom to abuse

NATIONAL POST

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Police rape of Afghan boys ignored

DON MARTIN

National Post

In Ottawa

Canadian soldiers in the main guard tower at forward operating base Wilson last summer winced when I asked about the sudden lineup of teenage boys along the mud walls of the neighbouring Afghan market.

“Wait a few minutes. You’ll see,” said one, his lip curling. “It’s disgusting.”

Sure enough, a handful of uniformed Afghan police officers emerged from their rundown detachment, walked through the barricades and started chatting up the dozen or so teens, some looking decidedly pre-teen.

A few minutes after they returned, the selected kids were waved through the main gates and went straight inside the police station. An hour later, when I left the observation post, the boys were still inside.

This evening ritual is often derided by soldiers as manlove Thursdays.

Afghan officials insist the notion of men and boys getting together the night before the Muslim holy day for sex is a myth. And, sure, it’s theoretically possible the cops were merely good-deed-doers giving these teens reading lessons.

But Canadian soldiers insisted we had just witnessed the regular Thursday evening negotiation for sex between Afghan men and boys, apparently for gifts or money.

It raises the disquieting question of how much responsibility Canadian soldiers shoulder, being military guests and all, to stop Afghan activity that would result in rape or child prostitution charges back home.

It should be stressed that the activity at FOB Wilson does not mean Afghan police and army officers are engaged in an epidemic of juvenile sodomy.

But the issue was given fresh legs last week by a military chaplain named Jean Johns, who reported that soldiers under treatment for posttraumatic stress syndrome had been told to “ignore” any assaults or rapes on Afghan civilians they had seen.

The Toronto Star also reports a Canadian soldier overheard an Afghan soldier abusing a young boy in late 2006 and later saw the victim with signs of rape trauma, specifically protrusions of his bowels and lower intestine.

There’s not much doubt that while the Canadian military may jackboot the Taliban at will, soldiers have to tiptoe around Islamic justice that clashes with our version of the law and the consequences for breaking it.

If Canadian soldiers had intervened between Afghan police and boys clearly selling themselves for sex, for example, an important partnership would quickly sour.

Now that several years’ worth of Taliban prisoners have been freed during the Kandahar prison breakout, we arguably need what passes for an Afghan police force more than ever.

Still, Defence Minister Peter MacKay told the Commons he’d met with military leaders yesterday and insisted soldiers “report any allegation of unlawful activity they see.”

That’s easy for him to say, as Canadian soldiers rumble LAVs through marijuana crops or swaths of opium-producing poppies so vast, a single field would net Canadian law enforcement its annual seizure.

There’s not much even top military brass or diplomats can do to prevent marriages forced on pre-teen Afghan girls or women who have been raped from being charged with adultery for failing to convince male justice that the intercourse wasn’t consensual. Global pressure barely prevented an Afghan student from being executed for downloading a report on women’s rights from the Internet.

Yet Canadians have a right to question the sort of Afghan freedom our troops are being sacrificed to defend if police can molest young boys without fear of our intervention.

No wonder Canadian soldiers come home confiding that killing Taliban insurgents isn’t as stressful as knowing an innocent kid might be regularly raped by an Afghan cop inside a Canadian military base.

Man-boy homosexuality has flourished anew in the aftermath of Taliban zero-tolerance laws, albeit a selectively punished offence in that era. Warlords again parade cities with teenage boys known as an “ashna” by their side.

The strict social separation and severe consequences for premarital sex with women have given rise to the cultural wrinkle of men used for sexual recreation and women reserved for reproduction.

But that hardly makes it right when Afghan boys are police rape victims.

And it’s a wrong that Canadian soldiers should be encouraged to report so that Afghan officers being trained in law enforcement can be pressured to stop it themselves.

http://www.nationalpost.com/most_popular/story.html?id=592211

Sex trade thrives in Afghanistan


Jun 14 12:14 PM US/Eastern
By ALISA TANG
Associated Press Writer

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The girl was 11 when she was molested by a man with no legs.

The man paid her $5. And that was how she started selling sex.

Afghanistan is one of the world’s most conservative countries, yet its sex trade appears to be thriving. Sex is sold most obviously at brothels full of women from China who serve both Afghans and foreigners. Far more controversial are Afghan prostitutes, who stay underground in a society that pretends they don’t exist.

Customs meant to keep women “pure” have not stopped prostitution. Girls are expected to remain virgins until their wedding nights, so some prostitutes have only anal sex.

Police make two to three prostitution arrests each week, according to Zia ul-Haq, the chief investigator in the Interior Ministry’s department of sexual crimes. They are often the casualties of nearly three decades of brutal war and a grinding poverty that forces most Afghans to live on less than $1 a day.

“Prostitution is in every country that has poverty, and it exists in Afghanistan,” says women’s rights activist Orzala Ashraf. “But society has black glasses and ignores these problems. Tradition is honor, and if we talk about these taboos, then we break tradition.”

The girl is now 13, and her features have just sharpened into striking beauty. She speaks four languages—the local languages of Pashtu and Dari, the Urdu she picked up as a refugee in Pakistan and the English she learned in a $2.40-a-month course she pays for herself in Kabul. She is the breadwinner in her family of 10.

She does not know what a condom is. She has not heard of AIDS.

The Associated Press learned her story in a dozen meetings over four months, as well as interviews with police and aid workers. For months she insisted she was a “good girl”—a virgin. But in March, she confessed to having anal sex with men for years, starting with the legless beggar.

She looked down as she spoke, her face and hands sooty from car exhaust. She tucked her hair repeatedly under her head scarf.

The girl grew up in Pakistan, where her family fled during a bloody civil war in Afghanistan in the early 1990s. She cleaned cars for money.

Five years ago, her family and a flood of other refugees returned to Afghanistan after the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime. But her father could earn only $40 a month doing various odd jobs.

So she sold chewing gum and newspapers and cleaned car windows in the muddy, potholed streets of Kabul. She made about $3 a day.

That was where she met Uncle Lang, a nickname that literally means Uncle Legless.

Uncle Lang was a land mine victim. When the girl and a friend brought him tea and food, he forced himself upon them, police say.

“I didn’t know anything about sex,” she says. “But it happened.”

It’s hard to know how many other women in Afghanistan are prostitutes because of the extreme secrecy around the issue. A University of Manitoba report last September estimated about 900 female sex workers in Kabul.

A 2005 report by the German aid group Ora International drew data from 122 female sex workers, of whom less than 1 percent knew about AIDS. The youngest was 14.

Prostitutes in Afghanistan include scores of Chinese women serving Western customers who work for security firms, companies and aid groups in Afghanistan. Many of the women say they were tricked into the trade by middlemen who promised them respectable jobs, but Gen. Ali Shah Paktiawal, head of Kabul’s criminal investigations, denies this, saying: “They come here of their own will.”

The shame of prostitution in Afghanistan is intense.

“In our culture, it is very, very bad,” said Soraya Sobhrang, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commissioner for women’s affairs.

Under the Afghan penal code, prostitution is often considered adultery, which is punishable by five to 15 years in prison. Under Islamic law, married prostitutes can be stoned to death.

Some prostitutes are forced into the sex trade by their families. The Ora report said 39 percent of the sex workers interviewed found clients through their relatives—including 17 percent through their mothers and 15 percent through their husbands.

For many girls, there is little recourse.

“They think that if they tell us the truth, we will return them to their families, and their families will kill them, or that we will send them to an institution and they will be put in prison,” says Jamila Ghairat of the aid organization Women for Afghan Women. “The girls are afraid of their families, the government and everyone.”

In some cases, it is families that pimp out the girls. At one family- run brothel, the oldest girl was a 15-year-old, orphaned when her parents died in rocket attacks in Kabul. A relative had married her off to a 9-year-old boy whose father was a pimp. She ran away three times, but each time her father-in-law bribed police to bring her back. She finally escaped to the human rights commission.

Makeshift brothels exist all over Kabul, but they are always moving, says Esmatullah Nekzad, a policeman formerly with the force’s Department of Moral Crimes. The clients are mostly Afghan men.

“Most Afghan men have this hobby—young men from about 16 to 30 years of age,” says Nekzad. “You go, you take their phone number, then you tell your friends. It’s all by telephone.”

The girls stay in one place for anything from five days to three months, until neighbors learn of their business.

That’s what happened with the girl Uncle Lang raped. In November, he trafficked her and several others to the northern city of Mazar-i- Sharif to beg and sell sex. Within days the neighbors became suspicious and tipped off police.

Police raided the place and arrested the prostitutes. Uncle Lang fled.

For a few weeks, the girl went daily to a women’s aid organization. She arrived in the morning, worked in the kitchen and had an hour of counseling every day. She left at 4 p.m.

Her hands became clean and soft. She was happier. She started praying to ask Allah forgiveness for her sins.

At first she said her family did not know she was selling sex, and her mother would kill her. But during the counseling sessions, she let it slip that her parents encouraged her to work with Uncle Lang. When she stopped seeing him, they sent her 10-year-old brother instead.

One day, an aid worker spotted her with Uncle Lang on a popular street lined with kebab and ice cream shops.

The aid worker confronted her. A day later, the girl stopped going to the organization.

She has not been seen or heard from since.

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D919UUH00&show_article=1

How Many Child Prostitutes Is Bush Responsible For?

AlterNet

By Bob Fertik, Democrats.com
Posted on March 18, 2008, Printed on March 23, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/story/79770/

George Bush has been tied to a prostitution ring involving as many as 50,000 women and girls. The prostitutes, some as young as 13, are among the 1.2 million desperate Iraqis who fled to Syria after Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the U.K. Independent.

Bush’s invasion destroyed the Iraqi government and unleashed a wave of political and sectarian violence that has killed over 1 million Iraqis and forced 4 million to become refugees, according to the UN.

Facing starvation, as many as 50,000 women and girls have been forced into prostitution in Syria alone, according to Hana Ibrahim of the Women’s Will Association.

“70 percent to 80 percent of the girls working this business in Damascus today are Iraqis,” 23-year-old Abeer told the New York Times. “The rents here in Syria are too expensive for their families. If they go back to Iraq they’ll be slaughtered, and this is the only work available.”

According to the Times, “inexpensive Iraqi prostitutes have helped to make Syria a popular destination for sex tourists from wealthier countries in the Middle East. In the club’s parking lot, nearly half of the cars had Saudi license plates.”

Driving women and girls into prostitution violates numerous human rights agreements, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. George Bush himself denounced sex trafficking at the United Nations in 2003.

Bush’s invasion of a country that posed no threat to the U.S. was illegal under both U.S. and international law, according to legal experts. Bush has been convicted of war crimes by citizen tribunals around the world, including New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Istanbul. Just las week, the towns of Brattleboro and Marlboro Vermont voted to indict and arrest Bush and Cheney.

In 2002 and 2003, Bush led a propaganda campaign to defraud Congress, the American people, and key allies into believing Iraq was a threat. Bush claimed Iraq had stockpiles of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons to use against the U.S., and was sharing them with Al Qaeda.

Speaking near Rochester NY, Bush later admitted, “See in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”

According to a recent study by the Center for Public Integrity, top Bush Administration officials told at least 935 lies about Iraq on 532 separate occasions. These included 259 lies by Bush, 254 lies by Secretary of State Colin Powell, 109 lies by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, 109 lies by Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, 56 lies by National Security Advisor Condi Rice, and 48 lies by Vice President Cheney.

The lies about Iraqi WMD’s were manufactured by the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), which included the most senior White House staff: White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, Condi Rice, Stephen Hadley, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, Jim Wilkinson, Nick Calio, Michael Gerson, and Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby.

After the invasion, 1,400 experts in the Iraq Survey Group scoured Iraq for WMD’s but found none. Charles Duelfer wrote the ISG’s final report in September 2004 and concluded Iraq ended its WMD program in 1991.

This publicly confirmed what the CIA had privately known since 1995, when Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Gen. Hussein Kamel, defected to Jordan and told the CIA he had personally overseen the complete destruction of Iraq’s WMD after 1991 Gulf War.

In May 2005, the Times of London published the “Downing Street Memo ” which revealed Bush’s pre-war intelligence was a deliberate fraud, according to Sir Richard Dearlove, head of Britain’s MI6 spy agency, who met with George Tenet in July 2002. “The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” of invading Iraq, Dearlove told a secret meeting of Tony Blair’s war cabinet on July 23, 2002, eight months before Bush invaded Iraq.

This publication of the “Downing Street Memo” led to widespread calls for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. John Conyers and other Democrats held preliminary impeachment hearings in the basement of the Capitol on June 16, 2005. In 2006, Conyers published his explosive findings in “George W. Bush Versus the U.S. Constitution: The Downing Street Memos and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, Coverups in the Iraq War and Illegal Domestic Spying.”

In 2007, Rep. Dennis Kucinich introduced three Articles of Impeachment against Dick Cheney for his role in the Iraq War lies. Kucinich’s bill, H.Res. 333, has 26 co-sponsors.

The bill was debated on the House floor last November the House voted 251-162 to refer it to the Judiciary Committee for further action, rather than kill the bill. (The bill was renamed to H.Res. 799.)

Last December, Rep. Robert Wexler and two other members of the House Judiciary Committee urged Conyers to begin hearings on the impeachment of Vice President Cheney. Wexler posted an online petition and collected over 230,000 signatures.

Rep. Kucinich ran for President in 2007 and his calls for impeachment were enthusiastically received by voters. Last week, Kucinich fended off a primary challenge in his Congressional district and is expected to introduce the first Articles of Impeachment against George Bush.

The latest polls by Newsweek and AP-Ipsos put Bush’s approval rating at 30%, a record low. His disapproval rating is over 60%, a record high, and suggests more Americans now favor Bush’s impeachment than in earlier polls which showed strong support for impeachment.

Bob Fertik is the president of Democrats.com

© 2008 Democrats.com All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/79770/