A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s house and we were discussing prostitution and sex trafficking. Someone made a comment that the HIV/AIDS rate in Muslim countries is lower – therefore prostitution and trafficking must either not exist in those countries or is far less prevalent than the rest of the world. A stretch I realize, but at the time I could not form a rebuttal without sounding disparaging so I stayed quiet.
The truth is trafficking and prostitution occur all over the world. The UAE is becoming a destination country. I think the heart of the issue is not that prostitution and trafficking happens less in Muslim countries, but that it may be more hidden and underground.
A few days ago The New York Times covered prostitution in Afghanistan. In one sentence the article managed to sum up part of my argument: “And there is anecdotal evidence, supported by doctors concerned about the potential for the spread of HIV and AIDS, that more and more young women across northern regions of Afghanistan are turning to sex work to escape grinding poverty.”
To say that Muslim countries do not have prostitution or trafficking is to push the problem under the rug. Let us face the issue. Like men in the United States, men living in other countries pay for sex because of the anonymity involved. We need to work towards punishing those who participate in trafficking. If a society wants to eradicate trafficking it has to focus on the buyer side of the equation. If there was not such a high demand for paid sex, there would be no need for girls to be trafficked to meet the surplus of eager buyers. But as long as men crave the experience others will be forced to fill the order.