Mobile phones, social media and the Arab Spring

Current events are making clearer the fact that new technologies, such as the spread of the internet, social media and new mobile software applications are impacting in developing fast and lasting social changes.
Recent riots in the UK have certainly been a clear example of the effectiveness and rapidity of these tools in engaging communities around certain topics and values. Considering UK riots it is worthy to note how specific patterns characterising the Arab spring are developing in a similar way, yet with different causes and social settings.
The so-called Arab Spring not only has challenged years of dictatorship, but also enabled people to realise how powerful the use of new technologies and media is in creating shared values able to support revolutions. As a matter of fact, the socio-political unrest that took place in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt first; Libya, Syria and Yemen then, have been shaped by new technologies, yet in different ways.  

With this paper not only we aim to look at the different ways new technologies have impacted on the development of revolts in the MENA region, but also the extent to which mobile phones have been used to tackle governments’ restrictions.

Did mobile phones and social media really enabled revolutions?
Answering this question is far from easy. Many would argue that the importance given to social media has been overstated, since countries like Libya, Syria and Yemen, characterised by similar patterns than Egypt and Tunisia, did not manage to realise a successful revolution, even though the use of new technology has been, and still is massive.
However, it is important to recognise that although the Arab Spring has not been created by new technologies, yet it has spread through them. Indeed, if we compare and analyse the events that took place in these countries, we could assert that not only have social media and mobile phones enabled the crowds to organise and coordinate themselves, but also provided a valuable means to tackle governmental control over information.
If we look at statistics, it would be immediate to notice how high internet and mobile phones penetration in developing countries is. Although in most of the Arab states governments are trying to control mainly the whole net of telecommunication infrastructures, still the development of internet access is giving people an immediate and less controlled means of communication.  As the Centre for International Media Assistance states in his report on Social Media in the Arab World, broadband high-speed internet is available in countries like Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt, while 3G mobile services are already developed in the North African region, as well as countries like Sudan and Syria (Ghannam, 2011). The global penetration rate of simple mobile phones is currently over 70%. Just to quote few numbers, only in 2009 Saudi Arabia  had a mobile penetration rate of 103%, Tunisia 87%, Egypt 72%, Syria 45%, Yemen 34% (Ghannam, 2011), while the whole Middle East region has currently seen a total rate of 285 million mobile subscribers (Africa and Middle East telecom-week report, July 2011).
By analysing and comparing the social unrest in different countries, we will highlight here the role played by mobile phones and social media in determining successful or unsuccessful revolutions.

The positive role of mobile phones in victorious revolutions: Egypt and Tunisia
Egypt and Tunisia represent the two main countries where the social revolution has succeeded. In both nations the coordination of masses and the insurgent action plan have been spread through main social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. While riots and revolutions in the past were developing and spreading by word of mouth, nowadays social media and mobile phones seem to be the main tool to give protesters information about how to counteract security controls, decreasing the risk of being captured and amplifying the achievement of the main objectives.
Therefore, the initial success of these two big revolutions is given by the powerful channels, which, by permitting to avoid the conventional media and governmental surveillance, gave voice to people’s needs. As many have already highlighted, the internet provided the means for both gathering and disseminating information, social media for connecting and organising groups of individuals spread across the country, and mobile phones played a huge role in both coordinating local groups and recording events through videos and pictures.
The power residing in these tools has also been recognised by the governments themselves, to the extent that they both decided to block internet sites and cut all the communication systems. This action, however, gave the opposite result and increased the number of participants protesting in the streets to claim their freedom of information back, so that both the Tunisian and the Egyptian governments had to apologise and re-establish communication infrastructures.  
Although the events described above already emphasize the relevance of new media and communication, it is important to highlight the prominence of mobile phones in reporting information. As a matter of fact, as it is true that social media had a massive influence in bridging distant areas and bringing people together, it is also true that mobile phones represented the main tool that provided protesters with the opportunity to spread their voices and share their values with the entire world.
For months we have been seeing massive amounts of images on television, newspapers, or the internet, and all those images were originated directly by personal headsets and mobile phones belonging to each individual involved in the revolts. If it is true (as many commentators have stated) that Twitter and Facebook are just an intermediary tool to share pre-created information, it is also true, and really important to mention, that mobile phones were creating those news and information. Mobile phones enabled people to broadcast themselves, factor that could be depicted as one of the most powerful resource for social change.
As Nabil Al Sharif, former Minister of State for Communications, stated: “The most important outcome of the Arab Spring has been the destruction of the old media regime”. As a matter of fact, the high level of media censorship in Arab countries brought citizens to increasingly distrust National media and information, leading them to rely on self-generated news, easier to spread both on a national and international level. One protester said: “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate and YouTube to tell the world”. This sentence fairly expresses the power embedded in mobile phones for developing freedom of information and creating a two way communication with the world. Not only were the millions of camera phones recording events to be uploaded on the internet, but also represented the main source of information for international newspapers, such as BBC and Al Jazeera.  Indeed, as many commentators have stated, videos and pictures taken by mobile phones represented the sole record of the violent scenes picturing governmental repression.
Furthermore, new technology also played a massive role after the revolution, as a powerful resource to write history. As a matter of fact, an Egyptian filmmaker Amr Salama has recently posted on Twitter a call for footage in order to create a documentary about the Egyptian revolution. So far, he has received over 300 gigabytes of images, mainly created through mobile phone devices. Therefore, mobile phones can be seen as the main tool that gave transparency, freedom and fairness to international information.
These testimonies highlight the development of a new form of civil engagement in society, a new way for communities to be involved and play an active role in lasting social change and development of rights and liberties. A new and more effective way because it broadens quickly, it brings together people who might feel different one another, yet who share same values on the basis of one shared community. A new way that is transparent and gives the opportunity to people to be heard on a large scale and therefore makes it worthy to try, as the outcomes can be seen; and can be seen immediately, without censorship or control. As Ghannam (2011) states

“Social networking has changed expectations of freedom of expression and association to the degree that individual and collective capacities to communicate, mobilize and gain technical knowledge are expected to lead even greater voice, political influence and participation over the next 10 to 20 years.”

And social networking starts from mobile phones. If we think about our daily life and the activities that we undertake regularly, it becomes immediately obvious that we spend a lot of time using our mobile phones. Whether undertaking work related or personal functions, communication becomes easier through mobile phones and I-phone and I-pad applications. Whether we are running late to appointments or whether we just want to say a quick “Hi” to someone we have not seen in a while, these technologies are becoming essential. Indeed, SMS is one of the quickest and easiest ways to communicate and this simple mechanism was a key driver in sweeping thoughts and communications in the Arab Spring across the Arab World.

The role of mobile phones in unsuccessful revolutions: Syria and Libya. 

Considering unsuccessful revolutions also contributes in demonstrating that, although mobile phones and new technologies cannot determine the outcome of a revolution, yet they can make it happen. As a matter of fact, although both Syrian and Libyan governments represent oppressive regimes, characterised by a cruel military force, which hardly leaves any hope for a socio-political change, yet Mr Radwan Ziadeh, executive director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Washington DC affirmed that it is the first time that Syria assists to this kind of popular uprising.

Many protesters have confirmed that what gave power and voice to their resistance is digital technology (Somaskanda, 2011, Spreading the Word: Syria’s digital revolution). Images of popular uprising in Tunisia and Egypt and broadcast news mentioned above, reached the Syrian and Libyan citizens, transmitting them that spirit of protest. One Syrian protester stated:

“This couldn’t have happened earlier […] now we have cell phones and can talk to each other, and we know what is happening in other towns.”

It is therefore obvious to note that the increasing penetration of simple mobile headset in the Arab society has made drastic changes in considering and developing opportunities for social action. The immediate communication among individuals belonging to a given community and sharing a certain set of values provides them with a strong feeling of companionship. Mobile phones and social media give the opportunity to concretely acknowledge the amount of people engaging in the same battle and increase citizens’ involvement.
The part played by mobile phones in Libya is to a greater extent astonishing. As a matter of fact, unlike the Tunisian and Egyptian governments, when Ghaddafi shut the whole communication network and internet he did not step back and based the hub of the communication infrastructure in Tripoli, to give the regime full control over any kind of internal communication. Given the impossibility of interacting, rebels have been forced to develop a plan to hack a new hub to create a new and independent network. Thanks to the financial help from the U.A.E. and Qatar, a group of Libyan engineers managed to successfully integrate their new equipment to the existing hub in Tripoli and restore communication. The satellite network provided by the U.A.E. telecom Etisalat, enabled rebels to have their own mobile phone network, which gave them the opportunity to organise subsequent actions (The Wall Street Journal, 13/04/2011).
Moreover, the easiness of communication given by mobile phones and social media not only has enabled citizens and rebels in countries like Syria, Libya or Yemen to follow the North African events, but also led governments to follow the same path and approach the equivalent method. 
As the Tunisian blogger Sami Ben Gharbia acknowledged, “Governments are using social media to their benefit” since many groups supporting the Algerian President Bouteflika or the Egyptian President Mubarak’s son have been created during presidential elections or in rioting times (Ghannam 2011). Furthermore, in Libya text messages stating “We congratulate those who understand that interfering with national unity threatens the future of generations” have been sent from the Ghaddafi regime to millions of mobile phone subscribers (The Telegraph, 20/02/2011), while Egypt is known to have forced the telecom company Vodafone to send pro-governmental SMS.   

Positively or negatively, supporting or opposing revolutionary actions, mobile phones and new technology have played an impressive role in reaching and influencing people globally. Although talking about immediate social change might be too optimistic and quite unrealistic, it should be admitted that mobile telephony and the spread of the use of social media in socio-political related issues is providing the basis for gradual and long term social transformations. Already people feel increasingly comfortable in taking action because of the power embedded in these tools. Distances have been shortened and times have been restrained. While in the past organising a revolution was requiring years of personal and secret meeting on a small scale, today events like those we have witnessed can be organised in few days, thanks to the inputs and contribution that every single and each person can easily introduce every minute.


Tunisian Women take to the Streets in the Hopes of Maintaining Gender-Equality

TUNIS – Over 1000 women took to the streets of Tunis last Saturday in order to ensure that the gender-equality rights that they have enjoyed for so long are maintained. Tunisia will hold its first election since the ousting of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on October 23rd of this year, however, with women in Lebanon and Egypt being pushed out of new constitutions, it is only natural that those in Tunisia are fearful of being sidelined under the new government.
The protest marked the 55th anniversary of The Personal Status Code (CPS), a significant equal rights bill that was passed under the leadership of Tunisia’s first president Habib Bourguiba. The bill – that enforced equal pay for women, provided them with equal rights in courts of law and banned polygamy – was seen as groundbreaking during its implementation in 1956. However, if Tunisia suffers from a rise in post-revolution religious conservatism, women in the country may see restrictions imposed on these rights. Emna Ben Jemaa, a Tunisian lecturer and journalist explained that “for Tunisian women, independence is not something that came with the revolution, it has been there for a long time” but gender equality in the country is “facing the threat of a loss in the gains made over the past decades,” said to Ahlem Belhaj  head of the Tunisian association of Democratic Women.

Political Islamist group, Ennahda, who were unable to exist under the rule of Ben Ali, have gained a significant amount support in recent months. However, representatives from the group have explained that women have nothing to fear, they “along with men, were victims of injustice under the Ben Ali regime, and it is time for them participate in governing the country,”  explained Noureddine Bhiri, a senior official of the party.

Human Rights Watch issued a questionnaire on Tuesday to all those parties and individuals who will be running in the October elections. The questionnaire, that aims to find out where these parties stand in regards to human rights,  urges all those taking part to “guarantee gender equality as a matter of law, eliminate criminal penalties for nonviolent speech, strengthen judicial independence, and revise the anti-terrorism law to ensure it does not criminalize speech offenses or trample the right to a fair trial.”
“The stakes for human rights are enormous in the election of an assembly that will draft a new constitution and probably adopt critical laws,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.  This questionnaire will prove vital in providing women with the most accurate information about where the electoral candidates stand with regards to gender equality, and will therefore allow them to make an informed and empowered decision in the upcoming elections.


At SCEME, we only like real men who don’t buy girls!

Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher through their DNA Foundation (www.dna-foundation.org) have  recently launched a fun and interactive campaign to fight against sex slavery in the US. The campaign named ‘Real Men Don’t Buy Girls’ calls for men to take a stand against sexual exploitation of women and young girls. So far, major celebrities such as Sean Penn and Jason Mraz have participated to hilarious video clips to support the cause.

At SCEME, we decided to join the Real Men cause because it strongly echoes with the work we are doing in the Middle East through our ‘Karamatuna- Dignity’ campaign which investigates and fights against women trafficking in the Middle East- an issue which otherwise receives little exposure in these countries.

While we do not have movie stars supporting our cause yet (but we are working hard on that and if you are a friend of a friend of a movie star please spread the word!), we are very proud to get the support from our wonderful team of volunteers and friends which are our own superstars! Check the pics below and Join our campaign at http://sce-me.org/get-involved/take-action


ما هي خيارات المرأة في العراق الجديد؟

ما هي خيارات المرأة في العراق الجديد؟
هيفاء زنكنة
لا تكاد المرأة تستفيق من احدى الصدمات في ‘العراق الجديد’ حتى تواجه صدمة أكبر. فما أصابها جراء الحرب العراقية الايرانية وفترة الحصار الجائر وصدمة وترويع ‘حرب التحرير’ الانكلو امريكية، أدى بها الى وضع يشبه وضع سيزيف الاسطوري، فما ان ترفع صخرتها لتبعدها قليلا عن كاهلها، حتى تجرها الصخرة منحدرة الى وضع تصفه كافة منظمات حقوق الانسان الدولية، بأنه يتراوح ما بين السيىء جدا والكارثي.
وهو وصف يمس، بالتحديد، وضعها كأمرأة وليس كمواطنة فقط، والذي قلما يتم التطرق اليه، عموما، لاسباب عديدة، منها انه يمس الشرف والكرامة، باعتبارهما قيمة انسانية ومجتمعية ترتبط لدى الكثيرين بالمرأة وبكونها هي الأم والاخت والزوجة والابنة. كما ان الوضع مؤلم جدا، ومن المعروف ان معظم الناس يفضلون النظر جانبا او تجاهل الموضوعات المؤلمة، كنوع من آلية الدفاع عن النفس. فكم منا يضمن، عند اطلاعه على تفاصيل جرائم خطف الفتيات والاستغلال الجنسي والاغتصاب والبغاء ألا يصاب بلوثة عقلية تدفعه الى ارتكاب ما لاتحمد عقباه مثلا، خاصة اذا كنا ممن يعتبر ان ما يصيب فردا او شريحة منا وكأنه يصيبنا جميعا ونتحمل مسؤوليته الاخلاقية والإنسانية.
ان واحدة من المشاكل الكبيرة التي تعيشها المرأة العراقية والأطفال، سواء في داخل العراق، خصوصا في اوساط النازحين قسريا، او خارجه في اوساط المهجرين في سورية والاردن ولبنان، هي مشكلة البغاء وتهريب الفتيات والاولاد وبيعهم لأغراض جنسية. وهي مشكلة مسكوت عنها ولا يوجد ما يشير الى معالجتها او وضع حد لها سواء من قبل حكومة ‘العراق الجديد’، المسؤولة بالدرجة الاولى عن حماية حقوق مواطنيها او حكومات دول الجوار المسؤولة عن حماية حقوق المقيمين لديها.
وفي مؤتمر، اقامته مجموعة ‘نساء لعراق حر موحد’، يوم التاسع من نيسان، بلندن، تحدثت ايمان ابو عطا، رئيسة منظمة ‘التغيير الاجتماعي من خلال التعليم في الشرق الاوسط’، عن المسكوت عنه وبتفاصيل تثير القشعريرة في البدن تقززا وغضبا ومرارة، وبإسلوب يخاطب العقل والوجدان والحكمة، داعية الحاضرين الى المشاركة في بحث السبل للتوعية، بالاضافة الى طرحها بعض التوصيات والخطوات العملية للضغط على الجهات المعنية لتحمل المسؤولية وايجاد الحلول.
وقد استندت الباحثة على تقارير المنظمات الدولية ومن بينها ‘هيومان رايتس ووتش’ لسرد شهادات عدد من النساء اللواتي اختطفن واجبرن على ممارسة البغاء. ويجب التأكيد هنا بأن تجارة البغاء مربحة وتنتشر بشكل خاص في فترات الحروب والنزاعات الأهلية وتردي الاوضاع الاقتصادية.
وقد لوحظت بداياتها، في العراق، في فترة الحصار ومع تصاعد الحاجة الاقتصادية الا انها ازدادت، بشكل مخيف، مع تفكيك الدولة وغياب القانون وزيادة الفاقة والبطالة، وانتشار قوات الاحتلال والمرتزقة (لاشباع رغباتهم الجنسية في البلد ‘المضيف’) وصمت حكومات الاحتلال العراقية على هذه الجريمة البشعة، بالاضافة الى استهداف الرجال جسديا وترك النساء ليتحملن مسؤولية اعالة العائلة. وتتعدد اساليب المتاجرة بالفتيات والاولاد واسعارهم حسب حاجة السوق في البلدان المجاورة ودول الخليج، وحسب سهولة التهريب وتعاون الاجهزة الامنية الحكومية والشرطة وحرس الحدود، بأسعار تتراوح بين 2000 و30 ألف دولار، كما يتم بيع البنات بأعمار تبدأ من 11 عاماً حتى تصل سن العشرين.
وقد تباع الفتاة الى اكثر من مشتر للمتاجرة بها، وقد يتم اخراجها من العراق بعد الشراء او الاختطاف او الزواج المؤقت، لتسلم الى تجار آخرين من جنسيات مختلفة. ونبهت الباحثة ايمان ابو عطا الى نقطة مهمة وهي انخراط بعض منظمات المجتمع المدني ‘الوهمية’ في تجارة البغاء بحكم توفير الغطاء القانوني لتواجدها. وهي ظاهرة جديدة فيما يخص العراق.
وكانت دورية العراق، في مدونتها الالكترونية التي تغير اسمها الى عشتار انانا، قد حذرت، منذ كانون الاول/ديسمبر 2003، من خطر انتشار البغاء، فاصدرت نداء وزعته على المواقع والمنظمات الدولية والمعنية بهذه الجريمة. وكانت الشرارة التي اطلقت هاجس الدورية هو قيام البنتاغون باسناد عقود ادارة السجون وتدريب الكوادر الامنية العراقية وحتى ادارة القضاء الى شركة ‘داينوكورب’ الامريكية. وهي شركة سبق تورطها في تجارة الرقيق وبيعها الفتيات لقوات حفظ السلام في البوسنة وتجارة المخدرات في كولومبيا. وقد قامت عضوة الكونغرس سينثيا ماكيني، عام 2006، بمواجهة وزير الدفاع دونالد رامسفيلد، حول سبب منح البنتاغون عقودا بمبالغ طائلة لشركة ‘داينوكورب’، للعمل في العراق، وهي الشركة المنخرطة بتجارة الرقيق والبغاء في العديد من الدول. حينئذ تنصل رامسفيلد من الاجابة بقوله بانه سينظر في المسألة!
ويشير تقرير صدر عن جمعيات اغاثة ومعونة، تعمل في العراق، إلى ان نحو 43 في المئة من العراقيين يعيشون ‘في فقر مطلق’، وهناك اربعة ملايين آخرين على الاقل بحاجة إلى معونات غذائية، وان اعداد النساء ممن تركن بلا معيل او سند، في ازدياد، وان عددا قليلا منهن يحصلن على معونات مالية من الحكومة، مما سيؤدي حتما الى عواقب مخيفة. فتصوروا أي مستقبل ينتظر نسوة واطفال العراق؟ وهل العراق بلد فقير ليعاني هذا البؤس كله؟ هل جفت ثروته النفطية كما قاربت ثروته المائية على الجفاف؟
يذكر د. عصام الجلبي، وزير النفط السابق، في مقالة له، نشرت أخيرا، بعنوان ‘الايرادات النفطية العراقية؟ كم وأين ذهبت؟’، بان ‘الايرادات النفطية المتحققة منذ الاحتلال في 2003 ولغاية آذار/مارس 2011 بلغت 289 مليار دولار (بالاضافة الى الأرصدة المجمدة للنظام السابق والمبالغ التي كانت في حساب النفط مقابل الغذاء لدى الأمم المتحدة والقروض وغيرها من هبات ومساعدات)’ حسب ما اعلن وزير النفط الحالي. بينما بلغ اجمالي الأيرادات منذ عام 1970 لغاية عام 2002 أي لغاية الاحتلال الأمريكي 262 مليار دولار، متسائلا عن ماهية ‘المنجزات التي تحققت بعد الاحتلال، وأليس من حق العراقيين اليوم أن يقارنوا وبعيدا عن أي بعد سياسي بما تحقق سابقا وما (تحقق) في عهد الاحتلال؟ مستخلصا بعد تقديم الارقام بان ما تم هدره من المال العام خلال 8 سنوات يفوق ما حصل عليه العراق خلال 80 سنة! ويذكر د. الجلبي بأنه ‘ في ضوء استمرار ارتفاع أسعار النفط العالمية يتوقع أن تزيد ايرادات النفط خلال عام 2011 لأكثر من 100 مليار دولار، أي اكثر من التخمينات الأولية المعتمدة في الميزانية’.
مما يدفعنا الى تساؤل بسيط: فلماذا تعاني نساء بلد غني كالعراق من الفاقة والعوز الى حد بيع بناتهن؟ ولماذا يطرح الحزب الاسلامي (الطائفي السني) تعدد الزوجات كحل لمأساة المليون ارملة، بينما تحلل الاحزاب (الطائفية الشيعية) زواج المتعة او البغاء الشرعي، ليحرموا المرأة العراقية الابية من كافة انجازاتها الاقتصادية والمجتمعية، متعامين كليهما عن وجود حلول اخرى على غرار توسيع شبكة المساعدات الاجتماعية وتأهيل النساء وتدريبهن وتوفير السكن وفرص العمل لهن، وهو ليس بالامر المستحيل في بلد غني اذا ما توفرت النية؟ ما الذي قاموا بانجازه منذ تبوئهم السلطة؟ ألا يقرأون خلاصات التقارير الدولية المنهمرة كالمطر التي تنص على ‘إن الحكومة العراقية لا تقوم بأي جهد لمكافحة ظاهرة تجارة البغاء، ولا تقدم أي حماية ودعم لضحايا الاتجار’، بل والأدهى من ذلك مساهمة بعض المسؤولين في تبرير الجرائم، كما سمعنا من وزيرة شؤون المرأة المستقيلة د. نوال السامرائي، في 7 نيسان 2009 القائلة: ‘بأن الاتجار بالجنس ليس قضية كبرى، وأن أولئك الفتيات اللاتي يعملن بهذا المجال اخترن البغاء مهنة لهن’!.
لقد بات من المؤكد، خلال الثماني سنوات المريرة، حتى للسذج الذين اشتروا بضاعة ‘التحرير’ كطريق وحيد للخلاص، بأن المشروع الوحيد الذي تم انجازه هو تهديم العراق كدولة والقضاء على شعبه بكل الطرق الممكنة. ما بات مؤكدا، ايضا، ان ساسة حكومات الاحتلال ونوابها المنشغلين بالنهب وابتلاع العمولات والعقود ومسايرة الجرائم، سيحصدون، في المستقبل القريب، ثمار ما زرعوه.
  ‘ كاتبة من العراق

Egypt: women call for equal participation and full involvement in the democratic transition

Egyptian women largely and equally participated in the revolution with Egyptian men , side by side, and some of them have been imprisoned and some missing while others have sacrificed their lives, and we believe they have the right to participate in building the New Egyptian State on the simple basis of citizenship.
The current political situation is as follows for women: The Supreme Council of Egypt’s armed forces (which ensure the transition) has suspended the Constitution, dissolved the Parliament, and formed a committee to draft a new Constitution for the country. Amendments will be submitted to a popular referendum.  In this perspective, specific guarantees covering women’s rights need to be written into Egypt’s new Constitution to ensure a significant women’s Parliamentary presence but also to protect them against sexual harassment and to enforce their rights.  
However, no women have been appointed to participate in the constitutional committee in charge of the revision of the Constitution and the proposed amendments so far still limit their participation.

Yet there is no guarantee at this stage that women’s rights will be enforced in the New Constitution. At SCEME, we support Egyptian women in their battle for recognition and please join us in raising awareness on this issue as soon it will be too late.

International’s Women Day: Stop Women Trafficking in the Middle East

As the world is celebrating the 100th International Women’s Day, in the Middle East, thousands of women are victims of trafficking everyday. Sadly, their situation remains unknown or ignored by the majority.
So please, take a look at the facts, and help us BREAK THE SILENCE TODAY and BRING THEIR DIGNITY BACK.
  1. Between 2003-2007, 4,000 Iraqi women went missing, 1/5 of whom is under 18
  1. Tens of thousands of Iraqi girls and women are trafficked internally and internationally into the sex trade
  1. Iraqi women are trafficked mainly to  Syria, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf countries
  1. Traffickers reportedly sell girls as young as 11, for as $30,000
  1. Some traffickers have the girls operated on in severe conditions, whereby the hymen is sewn up, so the girls can be sold as virgins again
  1. It has been reported that some girls and women are kidnapped, drugged and forced to have sex with between 10 and 15 men every day
  1. Trafficked women and victims of sexual violence often find themselves in jail, while authorities ignore their exploiters and the society rejects them