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Monday, July 16, 2012

"Summer brides" in Egypt; human trafficking in Iran

From Al Arabiya:
Wealthy Arab tourists from Gulf countries are paying money to purchase under-age Egyptian girls as “summer-brides”, claims a new report on human trafficking released by the U.S. State Department.

The marriages are not legally binding and end when the men return to their home countries.

According to the report “Trafficking in Persons”, often times these temporary marriages are facilitated by the girls’ parents who profit from the transaction.
According to Britain’s The Daily Mail, the wealthy tourists pay an amount to poor families through intermediaries, ranging from anywhere between $495 and $4,950.The young victims, some under the age of 18, are then forced to serve as sex slaves as well as servants to their “husbands.”

Egypt has laws in place that aim to combat human trafficking which prevent foreigners from marrying an Egyptian woman if there is more than ten years age difference, but marriage brokers have found a way around that by forging birth certificates to make the girls appear older and the men younger.

These contracts also eliminate any potential problems with hotels and land lords who may demand to see proof of marriage before allowing a couple to stay in a room together, since pre-marital sex is prohibited in Islam.

In many cases, the family agrees to marry their daughter without her consent, but often the girls are willing participants as they see it as the only way to help provide for their families.

In some cases the men take the Egyptian girls back to their home country to work as maids for their first wives. But even the girls who stay in Egypt do not fare much better since they often become ostracized by society and find it difficult to re-marry in the traditional way, particularly if the “summer marriage” resulted in a child.

Many of the young women end up in a cycle of temporary marriages with Gulf tourists, and others are targeted by Egyptian men who marry them in order to force them into prostitution.

Many abandon the child out of shame, either to orphanages or leaving them to join the hundreds of thousands of street children that already exist in Egypt.
But Egypt isn't nearly as bad off as Iran is in this State Department report.
Iran is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Iranian and Afghan boys and girls residing in Iran are forced into prostitution within the country. Iranian women, boys, and girls, are subjected to sex trafficking in Iran, as well as in Pakistan, the Persian Gulf, and Europe. Azerbaijani women and children are also subjected to sex trafficking in Iran.

Afghan migrants and refugees are subjected to forced labor in Iran. Men and women from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Iraq migrate voluntarily to Iran, or through Iran, to other Gulf states, particularly the UAE, and Europe, seeking employment. Some are subsequently subjected to conditions of forced labor, including debt bondage, through the use of such practices as restriction of movement, nonpayment of wages, and physical or sexual abuse. NGO reports indicate criminal organizations, sometimes politically connected, play a significant role in human trafficking to and from Iran, particularly across the borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan in connection with the
smuggling of migrants, drugs, and arms. Unconfirmed reports indicate that religious leaders and immigration officials are involved in human trafficking.

The Government of Iran does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and is not making significant efforts to do so. The government did not share information on its anti-trafficking efforts with the international community during the reporting period; this impedes the collection of information on the country’s human trafficking problem and the government’s efforts to curb it. Publicly available information from NGOs, the press, international organizations, and other governments nonetheless indicate that the Iranian government is not taking sufficient steps to address its extensive trafficking challenges. For these reasons, Iran is placed on Tier 3 for a seventh consecutive year.