A new report says that large numbers of teenage Iraqi men are being forced into the commercial sex trade there. The number of victims could be close to 4,000.
In order to get the young men to work for them, Iraqi gangs use money or threat to out the young men to their families. 16-year-old Hassan Feiraz told IRIN, “Every day I cry at night. I’m a homosexual and was forced to work as a prostitute because one of the people I had sex with took pictures of me in bed and said that, if I didn’t work for him, he was going to send the pictures to my family. My life is a disaster today. I could be killed by my family to restore their honour.”
The intoleerant attitude toward homosexuality in Middle Eastern countries was revealed most recently by the report of the hanging of two youths for homosexual crimes last month in Iran.
Young men in Iraq’s sex trade are said to receive $10 for each person they sleep with while the gangs that oversee the business take five times that amount. The leader of one gay sex ring, who goes by Abu Weled (“father of the boys”) said, “Iraqis love boys and our work is to offer pleasure to them. They are all gay and, in Iraq, the homosexual is something cheap and bad, but we make them feel special when working with us.”
Families have reportedly held their children back from school for fear that their sons would be lured into the forbidden business. One father said, “If I found that my son was doing something like that, I would kill him straight away, because it is an offence to our God and a crime against our honour. Homosexuals are nothing more than animals.”
While the government says it has begun a crackdown into the business, the trend shows no signs of slowing. Its massive growth has been spawned by the American invasion, as families feel increased economic pressure to survive.
I’m sure this is not the kind of “liberation” many were expecting. No doubt, when capitalism creeps in, there are those who will use the free market to its full and ugly advantage. It’s just tragic, however, that this is the only alternative other than death or exile for some of these young men.