The sex trade in Iraq has soared in the past two decades, fuelled by complex socio-economic factors and enabled by a tangled web of powerful interests, the ruling elite and armed groups, a toxic mix that has become the hallmark of America’s post-2003 legacy in Iraq. Decades of war and hardship have increased poverty rates, lowered education levels and reinforced patriarchal norms that marginalize women, making them more vulnerable to exploitation from the system.
Efforts to combat the trafficking of women have been ineffective, and all too often, victims are convicted of prostitution while those who benefit from the trade rarely face accountability. Even those women who avoid prosecution are marginalized from their communities, and in many cases, face the risk of honour killings at the hands of male relatives.
At this event, part of the Iraq Initiative, Chatham House will screen a short film, produced for Al Jazeera’s People and Power programme, that documents efforts to tackle trafficking and traces the stories of survivors as they struggle to reintegrate into society.
The screening will be followed by a panel with the film’s production team, characters and experts, who will discuss the experiences of victims of trafficking, prospects for the effective combatting of the issue, and the consequences of endemic politically-sanctioned corruption for the most vulnerable in Iraq and the Middle East region more broadly.
This event is organized as part of Chatham House’s Iraq Initiative and will be held on the record.