Dutch-Moroccan 'Lover Boy' Pimps

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 15:46 p.m. EDT, 17 May 2012

Anti-Sex-Slavery Campaign, Photo by Stevens James Collins PhotographyNETHERLANDS - Al Jazeera reported on the release of a film about the explosive increase in the Netherlands of forced prostitution of girls as young as 12 by their Dutch-Moroccan ‘boyfriends.’

The film by Julia Rooke and Caroline Pare features Ibrahim, a Dutch-Moroccan social worker who made the brave decision to speak about this troubling phenomena.

He starts by telling viewers that he is proud of his heritage as a Moroccan of biracial descent; however, this growing problem of ‘Lover Boys,’ who are also often also of Dutch-Moroccan descent, is one that needs to be publicized and eradicated. The term ‘Lover Boys’ refers to young boys and men who woo young women with promises of love and acceptance, lavish attention, and expensive gifts before turning them out into the street as prostitutes.

This new brand of pimping is subtle at first but later turns violent. Both the pimps and the prostitutes have a difficult time escaping the lifestyle. Many of the young men are vulnerable, at risks kids who are just trying to survive, and when they are introduced to this method of making money by seducing young girls, they choose this form of crime rather than other more risky ventures such as selling drugs.

In the Netherlands prostitution is a legal and well-regulated industry for women 18 years or older. However, the problem with prostitutes pimped out by ‘Lover Boys’ is that fact these girls are often under-aged and can eventually become so ensnared that they can be sold into sexual slavery after enduring incredible abuse at the hands of their ‘lovers.’

Ultimately, Ibrahim chose to work with the film’s producers, Julia Rooke and Caroline Pare because he felt that the risks outweighed the potential of reducing human suffering. Exposing the problem of ‘Lover Boys’ has the potential of further polarizing the Dutch population, which like other European nations, struggles to assimilate different immigrant populations including Muslims. Anders Brievik of Norway is an extreme representative of a group of Europeans who would prefer to deport all Arabs, even those who were born in Europe.

The silence that masks the problem of 'Lover Boys' is similar to hidden plight of the Bacha Bazi. These unfortunate Muslim boys are used as sex slaves by Afghanis men, but this aberrant practice is relatively unknown outside of the country because the subject of sex and prostitution in Muslim communities is taboo and contrary to the teachings of the Qu’ran.

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Published: 17 May 2012 (Page 2 of 2)

Also, the demarcation in Islamic culture between what happens 'inside' and 'outside' the house belies the fact that Islamic nations struggle against many of the same ills that beset every nation - prostitution, pedophilia, rape, etc.

Because of the generally monolithic perception Western cultures have about Islamic culture, hidden human right's abuses continue to exist and flourish unabated. The problem is further compounded by many Muslims refusal to speak out and expose not only the hypocrisy but also the immorality that exists in their communities.

Growing up in Africa I was acutely aware of the diminished status of a woman who is perceived by the community to have ‘compromised’ her virtue. When African and Arab immigrants arrive in America, it has been my experience that they view American and European women as ‘loose,’ and thus can be treated poorly without fear of retribution since they have no men to protect them.

For men from patriarchal cultures where the women are sequestered and their every action determined, ‘outside women’ are viewed as fair game and willing accomplices. When they encounter women who are free to make decisions about with whom they will have sex, when and what venues they will frequent, and make the choice to drink and get drunk, in some (NOT ALL) African and Arab men’s minds these women deserve whatever happens to them.

What is also disturbing is the fact that most of these men are usually married to women in their home country or even in the city to which they have immigrated, but unlike the ‘outside women,’ their wives conform to the strict rules of decorum as determined by their community and are never allowed to venture forth unescorted. By contrast their husbands can and do present themselves as free agents and engage in extramarital affairs.

Some of the men and boys who agreed to be interviewed for the film with the condition of anonymity, gave chilling accounts of their disdain for the girls they pimped, and the callousness they demonstrated toward their former 'girlfriends' was chilling.

The film also interviews some of the girls who were forced into a life of prostitution by their ‘boyfriends,’ but have subsequently escaped. After watching the film I encourage you to visit Al Jazeera to read the entire interview with Ibrahim. (Source: Al Jazeera | Film by Julia Rooke and Caroline Pare)

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Death by Marriage | Rape Victim Amina Filali

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:31 PM EDT, 18 March 2012

Mukhtar Mai

MOROCCO – On Saturday, 17 March 2012, thousands of people around the world awoke to the horror of the suicide of a young girl who had been forced to marry her rapist.

Her rapist was given the option of marrying the girl under Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code. This antiquated law allows for a rapist to marry his victim to escape prosecution. It is a law that has been used to justify a traditional practice of ‘preserving’ the honor of the woman's family by making the victim marry her victimizer or face certain death.

Amina Al Filali, 16, swallowed rat poison yesterday in protest of her marriage to the man who raped her a year earlier. Rape victims face numerous challenges in seeking justice and healing, but in cultures where the ‘honor’ of the family outweighs the rights of its ‘less valued’ members, a rape victim can be placed in an untenable predicament.

Moroccan families of rape victims, who have availed themselves of this resolution, admit that they coerce the victims into marrying their rapists out of fear that she won’t be able to find a husband if the community finds out that she has been raped.

In many societies throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, the loss of a woman's virginity prior to marriage, not only reduces her ‘value,’ but causes a great scandal which ‘injures’ the entire family. The rape victim is thereby sacrificed so that the males who did not protect her can absolve themselves of further responsibility.

In the photo above, a Pakistani woman, Mukhtar Mai, was gang-raped in 2002 on orders of a traditional village council as punishment for acts allegedly committed by her younger brother. Rather than retreat into silence or commit suicide (the expected response when dishonor is brought to a family), Mukhtar Mai testified against the perpetrators. She used the compensation money she later received to build schools and a shelter for abused women.

As in the States, the burden of proof of rape rest solely on the victim’s ability to prove she was attacked and that she didn’t ‘ask’ for it by putting herself in a compromising situation. In countries where ‘honor’ killings are prevalent, a woman risks being prosecuted for debauchery if she is unable to prove that she was raped.

In the case of Amina, according to her father, Lahcen Filali, the court pushed the marriage, even though the perpetrator initially refused. He only consented when faced with a potential 5 to 10 years in prison, which is the penalty under Moroccan law for rape. However, because Amina was a minor when she was raped, her attacker would have faced 10 to 20 years if he chose to go to court.

Immediately after the marriage, Amina complained to her mother that her husband was beating her repeatedly with increasing ferocity during the five short months of their marriage. Her mother as much a victim of societal pressure and expectations as her daughter, counseled patience.

Amina was subjected first to rape, then to a child-marriage, and finally to repeated physical and psychological abuse at the hands of her rapist. In a society where she had no voice, she chose the only option available to her, to take her own life.

Ironically, it may be this act of desperation that is giving voice to the countless others who are stuck in similar nightmares. Though Morocco updated its family code in 2004, Fouzia Assouli, a women’s rights activists and president of Democratic League for Women's Rights, says there remains a long road to achieve equality.

'It is unfortunately a recurring phenomenon,' she said. 'We have been asking for years for the cancellation of Article 475 of the penal code which allows the rapist to escape justice. In Morocco, the law protects public morality but not the individual and legislation outlawing all forms of violence against women, including rape within marriage, has been stuck in the government since 2006.’

In recent years, reports of young women who have been raped, and then sentenced to death by stoning, have been reported from Nigeria to Iran.

Last year the plight of rape victims in Afghanistan was featured in an European Union (EU) commissioned documentary about Afghan woman serving prison time for so-called “moral crimes.” The EU blocked the film’s release – saying it would endanger the women involved in the film. (Source: Aljazeera)

In an unfathomable abuse of justice, Gulnaz, 21, who was brutally raped by her husband’s cousin, was serving a 12-year sentence for adultery. While in prison, she was raising her infant daughter, who is the offspring of her attacker. By contrast, her rapist only received a 7-year sentence.

President Hamid Karzai, under immense international pressure finally agreed to pardon Gulnaz with ‘no conditions.’ Initial petitions for her freedom required that she marry her attacker, a stipulation which she categorically rejected.

Perhaps it was because of Amina’s youth, her parent’s pressure or unrelenting physical abuse, but unlike Gulnaz, Amina was not strong enough to hold onto hope or life. A Facebook page called 'We are all Amina Filali has been formed and an online petition calling for Morocco to end the practice of marrying rapists and their victims has already gathered more than 1,000 signatures.

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