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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                  


Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided over 90% of foreign exchange earnings. Oil exports are around levels seen before Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The International Compact with Iraq was established in May 2007 to integrate Iraq into the regional and global economy, and the Iraqi government is seeking to pass laws to strengthen its economy. This legislation includes a hydrocarbon law to establish a modern legal framework to allow Iraq to develop its resources and a revenue sharing law to equitably divide oil revenues within the nation, although both are still under contentious political negotiation.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]


CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Iraq.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Children lured into drugs and prostitution

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Baghdad, February 12, 2007

[accessed 13 March 2015]

GLUE SNIFFING - Sami Rubaie, 12, lives on the streets of Baghdad. He said he ran away from home because he could not stand the beatings he got from his father for not bringing home enough money from begging all day. He soon turned to glue sniffing. To support his habit, he recently joined a gang and now men have sex with him in exchange for glue and money.

"I cry every time a man has sex with me and they usually hit me because I am crying. After I do it, my boss gives me a good quantity of glue and around US $3 dollars for food. I know what I'm doing is wrong but it's better than living with daily beatings from my father for not bringing him enough money," Sami said.

Focus on Boys Trapped in Commercial Sex Trade

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, August 8, 2005

[accessed 13 March 2015]

A 16-year-old boy has started a desperate new life since being forced into the sex trade in Baghdad, joining a growing number of adolescents soliciting in Iraq under the threat of street gangs or the force of poverty.

Iraq's Unspeakable Crime: Mothers Pimping Daughters

Rania Abouzeid, Baghdad, Time/World, Mar. 07, 2009,8599,1883696,00.html?xid=newsletter-weekly

[accessed 13 February 2011]

That underworld is a place where nefarious female pimps hold sway, 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 just 11 and 12, are sold for as much as $30,000, others 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.)

The trafficking routes are both local and international, most often to Syria, Jordan and the Gulf (primarily the United Arab Emirates). The victims are trafficked illegally on forged passports, or "legally" through forced marriages. A married female, even one as young as 14, raises few suspicions if she's travelling with her "husband." The girls are then divorced upon arrival and put to work. (See Iraq's return to "normalcy".)


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT - Report on the scale, scope and context of the sexual exploitation of children  [PDF]

Sunethra Sathyanarayanan, ECPAT International, March 2019

[accessed 25 August 2020]

Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Iraq, Middle East. The overview gathers existing publicly available information on sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT), online child sexual exploitation (OCSE), trafficking of children for sexual purposes, sexual exploitation of children through prostitution, child early and forced marriage (CEFM) and identifies gaps, research needs, and recommendations.

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 31 August 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation, sale, offering or procuring for prostitution, and practices related to child pornography. Child prostitution was a problem, as were temporary marriages, particularly among the IDP population. Because the age of legal criminal responsibility is nine in the areas administered by the central government and 11 in the IKR, authorities often treated sexually exploited children as criminals instead of victims. Penalties for commercial exploitation of children range from fines and imprisonment to the death penalty. No information was available regarding the effectiveness of government enforcement.

2018 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2019

[accessed 31 August 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 641]

Throughout the country, some girls were subjected to commercial sexual exploitation through temporary marriages. (25) This practice involves a dowry paid to the girl’s family and an agreement to dissolve the marriage after a predetermined length of time. (38) Syrian girls from refugee camps in the Kurdistan region were sometimes forced into early or temporary marriages with Iraqi or other refugee men; some KRG authorities allegedly ignored, or accepted bribes to ignore such cases, including those in which girls are sold multiple times. (25) NGOs reported in 2018 that women and girls in IDP camps, whose family members have alleged ties to ISIS, continued to endure a complex system of sexual exploitation, sex trafficking, and abuse by armed actors residing in the camps, security and military officials, and camp personnel controlling access to humanitarian assistance and services. Iranian girls were subjected to commercial sexual exploitation in the Kurdistan Region and Iraqi girls were trafficked to other Arab states in the region and to Europe for commercial sexual exploitation. (4) Child laborers were also exposed to sexual violence and abuse. (12)

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 9 October 1998

[accessed 13 February 2011]

[27] The Committee notes with concern the situation of children living and/or working on the streets, particularly as it relates to economic and sexual exploitation. In this regard, the Committee encourages the State party to increase preventive measures and its efforts to ensure the rehabilitation and reintegration of these children.

Aid sought for nations with Iraqi refugees

Shafika Mattar, The Associated Press AP,  07/26/2007

[accessed 31 May 2011]

Amnesty said it visited Syria, where its delegates interviewed many Iraqis who had been tortured and in some cases raped. Most are traumatized, with little hope of receiving treatment, Amnesty said.  "Many refugees said they received no food and that their savings had dried up."  The statement said that some Iraqi refugee families have even resorted to forcing their daughters into prostitution to help the family survive. Child prostitution and trafficking of Iraqi children is said to be growing, Amnesty said.

Western civilisation? The Unspoken Fate of Iraqi Children

Hussein Al-alak, Global Research, January 13, 2007

[accessed 31 May 2011]

[accessed 10 November 2016]

August 2005 saw a report published by the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), which brought to light the growth of child prostitution, under the new liberated Iraq and how children as young as thirteen have become victims of this sexual tyranny, which the West has brought to these children’s doors.

The report states that extreme poverty has lead to an increase in gangs, who are going around and kidnapping children and forcing them into the sex trade, where hard currencies can be exchanged for the degradation of a young persons body.

Unveiling Iraq's Teenage Prostitutes

Joshua E.S. Phillips,, Jun 24, 2005

[accessed 31 May 2011]

The story of a Sunni girl from Fallujah selling herself in a Damascus nightclub represents startling new fallout from the Iraq war, one that human rights organizations and experts are only beginning to address.  An increasing number of young Iraqi women and girls who fled Iraq during the turmoil are turning to prostitution in Syria, although there are no reliable statistics on how many girls are involved.  That might partly explain why so little reporting has been done on the topic.  For journalists and human rights workers, securing contact with Iraqi sex workers in Syria is difficult and dangerous because the topic is taboo.  It's a serious problem because there are young girls doing this -- 11, 12, 13 years old.

Voices of Resistance: Women Speak Out – Interview

Azza Basarudin & Khanum Shaikh Interview Amal Al-Khedairy & Nermin Al-Mufti, Middle East Women’s Studies Review, Vol. Xviii, Nos. 3 & 4, Fall 2003/Spring 2004, pp. 1-3, 15

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 31 May 2011]

One of the impacts of wars and sanctions has been a rapid increase in prostitution in Iraq. Prior to 1991, levels of prostitution were relatively low. However, over the last decade prostitution rates have sky rocketed. Many men died in the wars, and sanctions left women in financial difficulty. More and more women, as well as children now, are involved in prostitution in order to make a living. I recently completed a project working with children who are 10, 11, 12 years old -- not even teenagers -- who are working in this industry.

5.1 Middle East - State of CSEC/ Attitudes toward CSEC [PDF]

November 21, 2000

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 31 May 2011]

While Israel, Jordan and Lebanon indicate a tacit willingness to address the issue, the majority of the countries in the region have not conducted research and deny the possibility that children are being sexually exploited for commercial purposes.  Open discussions of sex related issues are regarded as a social taboo thus further explaining the lack of research and acknowledgement of CSEC.  While the extent of child prostitution in the Middle East region is unknown, anecdotal evidence indicates that there is a large problem in selected areas of the region.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children - Middle East/North Africa region

This summary is based on the situation analysis written by Dr Najat M’jid for the Arab-African Forum against Commercial Sexual Exploitation, Rabat, Morocco, 24-26 October 2001

[accessed 31 May 2011]

These countries also have in common, however, a number of constraints that have hindered preparation of national plans of action. In all the countries of the region, there is cultural resistance to addressing the problem because the subject is largely taboo.  Often the issue is dealt with more generally under headings such as ‘violence’ and ‘trauma’.  This means that there has been no regional consensus on defining CSEC in law; in some countries, for example, it is looked upon as an indecent act, in others as rape, although in all 20 countries there is some section of the penal code that can be invoked against sexual abuse and exploitation.




Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS - Detection of trafficking was extremely difficult due to lack of information because of the security situation, existing societal controls of women, and the closed-tribal culture. There were reports of girls and women trafficked within the country for sexual exploitation.

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