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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

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

Syrian Arab Republic

The Syrian economy grew by an estimated 2.4% in real terms in 2008 led by the petroleum and agricultural sectors, which together account for about one-half of GDP.

Long-run economic constraints include declining oil production, high unemployment and inflation, rising budget deficits, and increasing pressure on water supplies caused by heavy use in agriculture, rapid population growth, industrial expansion, and water pollution.  [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 Syria.  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.


Unveiling Iraq's Teenage Prostitutes

Joshua E.S. Phillips, Salon, 24 June 2005

[accessed 27 July 2011]

[accessed 15 November 2016]

FLEEING THEIR WAR-TORN HOMES, IRAQI GIRLS ARE SELLING THEIR BODIES IN SYRIA TO SUPPORT THEIR FAMILIES - For the most part, Iraqi refugees are living off their savings, which are drained by daily expenses.  Many are stuck in Syria, as few Western embassies are now granting visas, claiming that Iraq has become a liberated country following the fall of Saddam.  With economic conditions worsening all the time for refugees, officials say, it's no surprise that Syria is seeing a rise in child exploitation and prostitution.  Still, given the growing awareness of the problems facing Iraqi refugees -- violence, restricted mobility, diminishing finances -- one wonders why child prostitution in Syria hasn't garnered more attention.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Regional Overview – Sexual Exploitation of Children Middle East and North Africa [PDF]

Zina Khoury and Sirsa Qursha, ECPAT International, 2020

[accessed 8 September 2020]

This Regional Overview on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), consolidates the relevant existing data to map the context, risk factors, region-specific issues, responses and gaps in the fight against the issue. In addition to providing external audiences with a summary and analysis of the SEC, this report will also serve as an advocacy tool that highlights good practices by governments and other actors, and identifies opportunities for improvements. Keywords: child marriage, war and conflict, LQBTQI, SOGIE, gender norms, taboo.

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 8 September 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The law stipulates penalties for those found guilty of certain forms of child abuse associated with trafficking crimes, including kidnapping and forced prostitution, both of which carry a penalty of up to three years in prison. The law considers child pornography a trafficking crime, but the punishment for child pornography was set at the local level with “appropriate penalties.” It was also unclear if there had been any prosecutions for child pornography or if authorities enforced the law.

The age of sexual consent by law is 15 with no close-in-age exemption. Premarital sex is illegal, but observers reported authorities did not enforce the law. Rape of a child younger than 15 is punishable by not less than 21 years’ imprisonment and hard labor. There were no reports of regime prosecution of child rape cases.

Amnesty urges help for Iraqi refugees

Shafika Mattar, Associated Press AP, Amman Jordan, July 26, 2007

[Last access date unavailable]

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.

Report by Special Rapporteur [DOC]

UN Economic and Social Council Commission on Human Rights, Fifty-ninth session, 6 January 2003$FILE/G0310090.doc

[accessed 27 July 2011]

[70] The Government reported that there are no laws pertaining to the issue of sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography as it does not constitute a social or religious problem and is a rare phenomenon.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is not present in Syria

Arabic News, 1/9/2002

[accessed 28 December 2010]

Al-Sheikh added that in his presentation to the Congress he pointed out that the problem of commercial sexual exploitation of children is not present in Syria, and that prostitution and pornography is very small, due to the firm social and families ties.

Iraqi children forced into prostitution in Syria

Business Travellers against Human Trafficking, Global news on human trafficking, 6/24/2005

[accessed 28 December 2010]

[scroll down]

There is growing evidence of Iraqi children being used as prostitutes in Syria. It is estimated that there are around 700,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria, many of whom are struggling in situations of poverty. Cases are emerging of families sending their teenage daughters to work as prostitutes, in order to survive.  Abdelhamid El Ouali, the representative for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Damascus said “”It’s a serious problem because there are young girls doing this — 11, 12, 13 years old,” There is little or no discussion of this in Syria, and the government does not release figures on prostitution.

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

ECPAT International, November 2000 -- Looking Back Thinking Forward  - The fourth report on the implementation of the Agenda for Action adopted at the World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children held in Stockholm, Sweden, August 1996

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

[accessed 27 July 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

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 -- Source document (in French): Rapport sur la situation de l’exploitation sexuelle des enfants dans la région MENA, 10 septembre 2001

[accessed 27 July 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 11 February 2020]

CHILDREN - Child prostitution and trafficking in children were rare; incidents that arose mainly involved destitute orphans.

ECPAT: Limited information is available

ECPAT International, Child Prostitution, Country Report - Seria

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

[accessed 27 July 2011]

Limited information is available on child prostitution in Syria. Research – and therefore statistics – in Syria generally focus on child labor rather than CSEC   Despite the lack of accessible data, the presence of a significant number of children in the street desperate for money underlies the possible existence of and potential for commercial sexual exploitation of children in Syria.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Child Prostitution - Syria",, [accessed <date>]