Syrian refugee girls sit at the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) "Child Friendly Spaces" (CFSs) in the Zaatari refugee camp, near the Jordanian border with Syria, on March 8, 2014.
A report says young Syrian girls whose families have lost everything due to three years of turmoil in Syria are being sexually exploited in neighboring countries, especially by wealthy Saudis.
The British newspaper Independent reported on Sunday that the long-running conflict in Syria has turned young female refugees into easy prey for some wealthy Arabs, especially Saudis.
The British newspaper also raised concern about sexual exploitation of Syrian girls in Jordan.
The report said Syrian families are forced into marrying their underage girls to much older local or foreign nationals for a few thousand dollars.
According to the report, the early or forced marriages are mainly prompted by financial necessity and are performed illegally. Most of the marriages are short-lived and the girls are dumped after a while.
In one case, the report said that 17-year-old Nawar and her sister Souza, who is 16, “were married off to much older Saudi Arabian men…. But after 20 days, the men disappeared.”
“We hear lots of stories about brokers who take girls from the Syrian community and do matchmaking for marriage, for local men and men from abroad. And the marriage will be very short term, it could only last 24 hours, just to give a legal cover for sexual exploitation,” said Amira Mohammed, a counter-trafficking officer at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
She added that sexual exploitation of refugee women is usual in such situations.
“Refugees find themselves in a situation where they sell whatever they have. For a woman it is typical either to work in a domestic situation or to do sex work,” Mohammed said.
Since the turmoil broke out in Syria three years ago, some 130,000 people have been killed and millions of others have been displaced due to the crisis.