When I heard of women trafficking in the Middle East, I simply never believed it. Being an Arab female, there was never any talk or a history of trafficking of women within the Arab world and to find out that this was happening in Iraq, led me to want to discover the facts. I started two years ago and having been someone who has lived under occupation and suffered attacks because of my ethnicity, I was determined to find out the truth. The search for truth has provided me with the basis on which I have led my life and my morality was shaped by those who searched for truth and justice.
What I came across was closed doors, shame, the unwillingness of authorities in Syria and Jordan and the quietness of civil society on this issue. Questions were met with aggression from authorities, letters of ignorance from British Ministers and the unwillingness of families and women to talk about what happened. Undeterred by the closed doors, I set up SCEME, (Social Change through Education in the Middle East and North Africa) and took out a personal loan of £40,000 in order to investigate and highlight whether these abuses were taking place. We uncovered a massive abuse of children and women, trafficked from post war Iraq into Syria and Jordan. Some were girls as young as 11 years old who were sold as sex slaves in nightclubs in these two countries and in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. Our reports have highlighted and shone a light on this trade in which authorities have been involved with and where a blind eye has been turned on the wholescale trade in women. Wars, poverty, the manipulation of the poor and fear have led to this issue and the wars against Iraq have created the environment for this abuse to blossom within. My role has simply to shine a light somewhat on this trade on the voiceless. What I hope our work has done, is to give a small voice to the voiceless. But it cannot stop here. What we have found may be just the tip of the iceberg, and I will continue to work to uncover more hidden truths; challenge the authorities that do nothing to help and spread awareness internationally so that the world can stand up with me to fight against the trafficking of women in the Arab world.
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