Situations of armed conflict consistently and systematically attack the integrity and lives of women and girls around the world who experience violence first hand. Their vulnerability increases with situations of poverty, neglect, and lack of opportunities. The escalating trends of sex trafficking in the context of armed conflict are a persistent symptom of war, where the practice of forced prostitution is widespread and nourished by the different repercussions of war on women.
In many cases young children, mostly girls, are tricked or recruited into prostitution in the hopes of receiving monetary compensation. However, many are sold or kidnapped into this form of slavery in which women and girls are targeted for sexual exploitation. Many stood in disbelief at the conference held by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women at CSW when Yanar Mohammed, MADRE’s partner and the director of the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) told the story of girls as young as 11 who had been forced into prostitution. Nevertheless the fact remains that children, girls and boys as young or younger than 11, are being sexually exploited.
It is necessary to establish support systems and partnerships with the different organizations and women who are stepping up for their communities in a search not only to end violence against women but to empower survivors. Supporting such organizations on an international level will not only facilitate their work but also back up the work of the leaders who in many cases put their lives at risk to take on this task.