It is an established fact that whenever there has been a war or an armed conflict, heinous crimes such as rape and prostitution became rife.
The soldiers die once and the civilians die every day, holding onto hope that the war will end soon. And among those civilians, women and children are the ones who usually suffer the most. The same situation can be found in a Syrian refugee camp, where Bahsar al-Assad’s army and rebel forces can learn a bitter lesson.
Zaatari Camp, in Jordan, houses more than 120,000 refugees and is funded by the United Nations. Jordan, a neighboring country of Syria, opened its gates for refugees while Syria and its economy suffer from an ongoing civil war. The total number of people who fled the conflict-stricken zone has crossed a million and more than 418,000 of the refugees came to Jordan. The situation in the past few months worsened so much that in February alone 50,000 people crossed the border to come to Jordan.
There is a disturbing amount of women who came as refugees from Syria to Jordan without their husbands or families. Some arrived with their children only, thus becoming even more vulnerable to sexual exploitation since they have no source of income and have kids to feed apart from themselves.
It has been a tradition in Gulf States to undermine women and their capabilities. They are nurtured in an environment where men reign supreme and females are left at the mercy of male members of the family, be it a husband, father, uncle, brother or son. These ‘men of the family’ are there to protect, feed and shelter the helpless women.
In Zaatari Camp, these very ‘protectors’ have now become pimps. Fathers are selling their daughters, and husbands are auctioning their wives for $70 a day. Syrian women claim that they have nothing to hold onto or rely on anymore. They have lost their homes and their families in the refugee camps are forcing them to resort to prostitution.
An 18-year-girl who came to Zaatari Camp last summer was sold to a young Jordanian man for $1000 who later handed her over to a brothel in the city of Irbid, pimped by man who calls himself Faroun (Pharaoh).
Authorities, including the Jordanian police and security guards stationed at Zaatari, either say the rumors of widespread prostitution at the refugee camp are untrue or acknowledge that it is happening but not at an alarming rate. Moreover, some people also believe that the Syrian women who have engaged into this ‘business’ are not doing it because they are helpless but because they enjoy it.
Such kind of obnoxious and ridiculous rhetoric is common when it comes to prostitution or rape and it only adds to the agony and suffering of the victims. The Syrian civil war might end someday. People may also start rebuilding their territories. But the stories of these ruined refugee women will forever remain as scars on the history of Syria.