News / Middle East

In Lebanon, Syrian Refugees Resort to 'Survival Sex'

A homeless Syrian woman and her children are seen along a street in Beirut, July 22, 2013.
A homeless Syrian woman and her children are seen along a street in Beirut, July 22, 2013.
Three-quarters of the Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon, because of the continuing fighting in their home country, are women and children. They make up a highly vulnerable population that’s easy prey as economic distress is forcing more and more Syrian women and girls to consider prostitution.

They are turning to prostitution in order to secure money and food for their families, say aid workers, who argue the women have little choice but to resort to what they describe as "survival sex".

Rima ZaaZaa of the Lebanese charity Solidarity and Development said, with no end in sight to the Syrian refugee influx, extreme poverty will force more to trade their bodies for money and food.
 
“There are certain shelters that are known that the prostitution percentage is very high in these shelters, whether in Ain Helweh camp or in Sadaya, in different areas they are known. A lot of prostitution is taking place,” explained Rima ZaaZaa.

More than 600,000 Syrians have registered with the United Nations in Lebanon as refugees but the Lebanese government estimates there are more than a million already in the country. By year’s end there could be two million, placing impossible strains on the resources of a small country mired in economic problems and on the international aid community.

Unlike the governments of Jordan and Turkey, the Lebanese government has refused to build new refugee camps to house Syrian refugees. With Syrian women and girls scattered throughout Lebanon in shabby rental accommodations, makeshift shelters, and abandoned buildings, aids groups say they often face sexual harassment and demands for sex from landlords, store owners, and Lebanese officials.

Afana, a 26-year-old mother of two young children, said it is not uncommon even for male aid workers to demand sex. She explained through a translator what happened to her at one charity.  “In one of the NGOs he told me if you accept to sleep with me, if we can have sexual relation, every time I have any kind of access to assistance it will be yours. I will have your name on it. So I started crying and went out of the NGO,” she recalled. 

Lebanese officials describe reports of increased prostitution and the trading of sex for assistance as exaggerated, claiming they are isolated cases. They say few women are being trafficked, pointing to figures from the Internal Security Forces showing there were 27 trafficked women in 2011 with exactly the same number reported last year.

But this is missing the point, aid workers said. They agree organized criminal trafficking isn’t large scale in Lebanon. What has become endemic is women and girls are being forced by their circumstances to resort to street-walking and survival sex and the aid workers say many men are happy to exploit their plight seeing them as fair game, they added.

Qass Em-Saad of the Lebanese branch of the aid organization Developmental Action Without Borders says Syrian women and girls are so desperate they are selling themselves for as little as 10,000 Lebanese pounds - about $7 - outside Ain Helweh, the Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon where more than 20,000 Palestinian Syrians have sought refuge.

“Here we have a lot of cases but also because of the taboo and because of the Islamist factions that we have inside the camp the people they are afraid to talk about these things but if you go outside the camp you will see those Palestinians and Syrian girls or women who suffer from poverty, they are going outside the camp and they practice these sexual activities,” said Saad.

Saad’s group is trying to train the Lebanese police to see these women as victims rather than as offenders.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: rich from: d.c.
July 30, 2013 8:43 AM
As everyone knows, prostitution is the world's oldest trade-it hasn't died out, and won't.

In almost all mammalian societies you have a variation of prostitution in which the males with the most resources mate with females in which an exchange of sex for resources takes place.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid