Prostitution in Iraq

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Prostitution in Iraq is illegal.[1][2] The Iraqi penal code outlaws prostitution, with the pimp, the prostitute and the client all being liable for criminal penalties. Punishment can be severe, including life imprisonment.[1]

Iraq war[edit]

Many women fleeing the war in Iraq have been forced into prostitution. Some sources claim up to fifty thousand Iraqi refugee women in Syria, many of them widows or orphans, have been forced into prostitution.[3] Sources claim the women are exploited by Arab states of the Persian Gulf.[4] After the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, private contracting companies used foreign prostitutes smuggled into bases and the Green Zone as bribery for other contracts.[5][6]

Kurdistan Region[edit]

The Kurdistan region has reportedly received "women and children trafficked from the rest of Iraq for prostitution".[7] Criminal gangs have prostituted girls from outside of the Kurdistan Region in the provinces of Erbil, Duhok, and Slemani.[8] NGOs have alleged that some personnel from the Kurdistan Regional Government's Asayish internal security forces have facilitated prostitution in Syrian refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region.[9] Iraqi women were sold into “temporary marriages” and Syrian girls from refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region were forced into early or “temporary marriages”, and it was alleged that Kurdistan region's authorities ignored such cases.[9][10]

Prostitutes invade Kirkuk[edit]

Soran Mama Hama, a young reporter for Livin Magazine wrote an article entitled "Prostitutes invade Kirkuk", which was published on 15 June 2008.[11] Hama said that he had the names of police brigadiers, many lieutenants, colonels, and many police and security officers involved in and covering up a prostitution network in Kirkuk.[12][13][14] The network involved 200 brothels in the city, each with 2 - 6 prostitutes.[11]

The Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate (KJS) said Mama Hama had received a threatening message from an unidentified person on 15 May.[12]

Hama was shot and died in front of his home in Kirkuk.[13] In the mobile phone Hama was using, there were messages discovered to be from a PUK politician who had threatened him with death prior to assassination.

Other types of prostitution[edit]

In some cases, Iraqi teenage boys and young men are the prostitutes. In these cases the prostitutes are typically motivated by poverty and are mostly heterosexual.

Sex trafficking[edit]

Iraq is a source and destination country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking. The violent conflict with ISIS exacerbated the population's vulnerability to trafficking, in particular women and children. Refugees and IDPs face heightened risk of trafficking due to their economic and social vulnerability and lack of security and protections. NGOs report trafficking networks in the Kurdistan Region target refugees and IDPs, operating with assistance from local officials, including judges, officials from the Asayish forces, and border agents. In 2015, members of the Kurdistan Region Parliament and NGOs reported some personnel from the Asayish forces facilitated the sex trafficking of women and girls in Syrian refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region, primarily in Domiz refugee camp, as well as sex trafficking of girls outside of the camps. In 2016, NGOs reported Asayish guards not only allowed men to enter a camp to solicit commercial sex with refugee girls, but the guards also solicited sex from the refugee girls, including granting them permission to leave the camp in exchange for sex. Reports from 2015 indicated IDPs and some Syrian refugee women were forced into prostitution by a trafficking network in hotels and brothels in Baghdad, Basrah, and other cities in southern Iraq after agents of the network promised to resettle them from the Kurdistan Region.[15]

Reports continue to suggest some Iraqi law enforcement officials have allegedly frequented brothels known for sex trafficking or accepted bribes to allow sex trafficking. Media and other observers reported in 2015 that an Iranian sex trafficking network operated brothels in Erbil where Iranian girls were exploited in commercial sex; the media reported a KRG official allegedly paid $3,000 for an Iranian sex trafficking victim. There were anecdotal reports, including from a June 2016 local television station, of child sex trafficking of girls primarily from Iran and Syria, as well as some from the Kurdistan Region, in Sulaymaniyah. NGOs also report cases in which girls who have run away from their families out of fear of honor killings are exploited in commercial sex by criminal networks.[15]

Women primarily from Iran, China, and the Philippines are forced into prostitution in Iraq.[16]

The United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons ranks Iraq as a 'Tier 2 Watch List' country.[15]


  1. ^ a b "Sex Work Law - Countries". Sexuality, Poverty and Law. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  2. ^ "The Legal Status of Prostitution by Country". ChartsBin.
  3. ^ '50,000 Iraqi refugees' forced into prostitution Archived 8 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine. (24 June 2007). Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
  4. ^ Iraqi refugees forced into prostitution Archived 1 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 4 June 2011.
  5. ^ Schwellenbach, Nick; Sebert, Lagan (30 August 2010). "Military Subcontractors Bribing U.S. Personnel With Prostitutes? The Shady World of War Contracting in Afghanistan and Iraq". AlterNet. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  6. ^ "US military contractors in Iraq 'employed prostitutes, smuggled booze'". Alaraby. 4 May 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  7. ^ What Kind of Liberation?: Women and the Occupation of Iraq, Nadje Al-Ali,Nicola Pratt, p. 108ff
  8. ^ "Iraq". 1 June 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Iraq". 27 July 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  10. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Report exposes rampant sexual violence in refugee cam". Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Prostitutes conquer Kirkuk: a report written with blood". On Line Opinion. 7 August 2008. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Soran Mama Hama". Committee to Protect Journalists.
  13. ^ a b Fatih, Nwenar; Mahmood, Shakhawan (July 2011). "First martyr of pen murders to be revealed". Kirkuk Now. Archived from the original on 1 November 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  14. ^ "Covering Iraq is deadliest job for reporters, again". CNN. 18 December 2008. Archived from the original on 20 January 2013.
  15. ^ a b c "Iraq 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 29 July 2018. Retrieved 28 July 2018.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  16. ^ "Iraq". 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report. U.S. State Department.

External links[edit]