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Kamala Sarup: War Increases Prostitution

War Increases Prostitution

By Kamala Sarup

Amnesty International said on Wednesday: ''Women and girls in war zones suffer rape and violent abuse while offenders escape punishment, Because national authorities have failed to act to halt such abuses. Despite promises, treaties and legal mechanisms, governments failed to protect women and girls in conflicts in Colombia, Iraq Sudan, Chechnya, Nepal and Afghanistan the report said.''

Amnesty's secretary general, Irene Khan said in an interview "What we have seen consistently is that if you don't prosecute and punish then, there is a tendency for it to continue. Women and girls are not just killed, they are raped, sexually attacked, mutilated and humiliated. She further said no official statistics were kept, so it was impossible to say whether the situation was worsening.

The report urged political leaders to openly condemn violence against women and cooperate with the court in bringing offenders to justice. It also recommended the urgent provision of medical and humanitarian support for female survivors of abuse.

War fuels Prostitution

Millions of women are involved in prostitution for survival on the streets. As a sad illustration of further social decay, there are about a millions women who have turned to prostitution due to the war-caused break down of social structures and traditional security mechanisms in the World. Thus, many women see the streets and prostitution as a way to freedom from conflict. Some women are also see in prostitution a way to earn more money.

The prostitution of girls in Asia and in Africa the direct consequence of years of economic crisis, and the low status afforded to women in the country. Because women have a limited access to occupations and resources, they are the ones hardest hit during economic crisis. Poverty is definitely linked to prostitution but poverty is not the only reason It exacerbates an already desperate situation caused by war. Poverty is leading many women into street prostitution.

Growing up in Asia and in Africa is not an easy task for today's girls, especially for those being raised in the country's conflict-ridden rural areas. For the displaced, especially poorly educated teenage girls whose wage-earning skills are often limited working in the fields, there are few options: remain and risk being killed; often for a life of prostitution; or join one of the armed groups. War and poverty are bringing more and more girls from village into cities.

"A nation at war, is generally speaking a nation unable or unwilling to meet basic human needs. And it's a human rights problem of enormous dimensions and government has a responsibility to help to eradicate this problem. While war-affected women more likely to be sexually abused. It is important to know if women and girls are turning to prostitution for food and shelter. Women and girls should then be offered protection through programs which tackle the root causes of the problem, lack of security and income". Chiranjibi Budhathoki argued.

In a bid to escape poverty, conflict and abuse in the country, an increasing number of women are turning to prostitution. Prostitutes operating in bars, restaurants and hotels. Some night club owners reportedly allow under-age girls into clubs for sexual exploitation by clients. Most of the displaced are from rural areas and entering urban settings, the pressure for immediate cash is enormous. The search for jobs is complicated. It has been reported that many girls start having sexual relations, and become prostitutes. That the vast majority of women who find themselves as prostitutes in Asia and and Africa are there unwillingly.

"There have been no studies linking displacement and prostitution. Clearly, reliable studies and data on sexual exploitation and prostitution and the link to displacement are urgently needed. Rather than fighting country's social and economic injustices, many other teenage girls are desperately seeking to escape the violence and poverty so prevalent in rural areas". Chiranjibi said.

Unfortunately, one of the only wage-earning options available to many young, poorly educated females is prostitution. The direct impacts of the war on women are wide ranging. On the other hand, Left with no home, no income, women ending up begging or prostituting themselves in order to provide food. Hunger and war form the backdrop to this furtive exchange, for deepening poverty is driving increasing numbers of women to sell their bodies.

In South Asia and in South Africa, poverty was the main obstacle to the full realization of women's equality. It manifested itself in poor health, low levels of education, food insecurity and unemployment. Further, women constituted the majority of the population living in rural areas, and they suffered the consequences of unsophisticated farming practices and inadequate power infrastructure.

As girls usually have few marketable skills, sex becomes the only avenue for survival. One of the most tragic consequences of the long civil war has been kidnapping of women and children. Displacement is the most common consequence of armed conflict and women the most affected civilian population. Many displaced women and their families are still without adequate shelter, are among the most vulnerable to prostitution. In addition it is important to note that most women suffer the impacts of war in multiple ways.

In fight, as well as upon arrival in an urban places, women commonly experience violence and abuse because conflict have contributed to a rise in prostitution, which threaten women's health. In the streets, the girls are under the threat of disease. Prostitution is officially illegal and HIV is wide spread among prostitutes in the World. Moreover, is the fact that the continuing conflict has exacerbated the problem.

Even a cursory look at the situation on the streets indicates that there are many more women and teenagers involved in prostitution than the official statistics suggest. And because some of the Asian countries are a closed society, prostitution is not widely discussed in public. Most of them work as prostitutes, usually for between 10 and 20 dollars. Prostitution appears to be appearing everywhere in the society. Family problems, not unrelated to poverty, may also lead the girls to prostitute themselves.

Now we have some questions why normally, only the women who sold sex faced legal penalties, not the men who bought it? Why pressures from parties of the conflict, the government, the family all serve to intimidate many women into silence? Why the law continued to hold prostitutes, not their customers? Even why government only gives message of its campaign: "Be careful about HIV. But at the same time, it does not distribute condoms. Similarly, reports from the field indicate that large stocks of condoms expire because they go unused. Awareness of the disease and methods of prevention are extremely low. Why is it that even a democratic government cannot change it's law against the many customs and rituals that allow the practice of prostitution like deuki, jari, and badi pratha in South Asian region like in Nepal and in India?

However, Governments have failed to systematically identify and meet the distinct needs of a large and particularly at-risk women and have no program for them why ? Most women made the dangerous choice to sell sex because of financial difficulties and limited opportunities because of the conditions of the country's economy. In order to change these things, the economy has to be improved. The number of girls engaged in prostitution has risen, though there was no reliable information, prostitution seemed to be a growing phenomenon.

The government does not give licenses to them or require them to be tested regularly. War and political instability in several countries for the unabated prostitution of women. Because of the war, many women are separated from their families. Rape is also reported, though it remains difficult to document. More frequently the fear of retaliation and the knowledge that nothing will be done, silences them. Although statistics on sexual exploitation of the displaced remain unavailable.

Widespread poverty and inadequate social safety nets have left many women with no choice but to sell their bodies simply to survive from one day to the next. In addition, poverty brought about by war leads to increased prostitution, and as few have access to information about how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS.

When the social infrastructure collapses as a result of war, famine, and economic crisis women turn to prostitution as a last resort. No matter how women and girls get into prostitution, it is difficult to get out. Often women can leave prostitution only after they become ill.

In some cases, it is the parents who sell their girls to foreign paedophiles via local intermediaries. How long will we allow the current situation to continue?

Special attention must be given to the encouragement of economic growth in the rural areas. The first priority should be to restore peace and combat organized crime.

For this reason, alternative income generation strategies are needed. A reintegration strategy should include greater training, credit and enterprise opportunities. There is an urgent need for better protection programs and human rights monitoring. Those affected most negatively by conflict are women living in poverty, and particularly in rural areas; the negative impacts on basic human needs, development and reconstruction must be addressed.

The complicity between the government, the public forces is a fact. In the name of protecting prostitute, with the support of many so-called NGOs are introducing legislation but we know from experience that such legislation does not provide protection from violence and exploitation. Prostitute are forced by poverty, violence and war.

The main question is how can we change this World, with all its conflict?


(Kamala Sarup is editor to>

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