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International News

Under Wraps, Prostitution Rife in North Afghanistan

May 22, 2008

Though strict Islamic law forbids it, more and more women in northern Afghanistan are turning to sex work to escape poverty, say doctors worried about the spread of HIV/AIDS.

"Unfortunately, the public is not aware of the risk of HIV infection," said Mohammad Khalid, a physician who operates an AIDS awareness clinic in Mazar-i-Sharif. "It is very dangerous and these prostitutes will be a major factor in spreading it." Khalid has seen HIV infections rising but believes sex workers avoid getting tested.

"I had no other way but prostitution," said Fatima, 19, who could not find work in the city after living for years as a refugee in Iran. The work, which sometimes pays $50, provides a lifeline to support her mother, two sisters, and brother.

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"My father died in the civil war, my mum was a widow and I did not know what she did for work," said Nasrin, a 24-year-old sex worker in Kunduz, east of Mazar-i-Sharif. "Later I understood she was a prostitute. One day she encouraged me to have sex with a man who came to our house." Ashamed, Nasrin felt she had no choice. "I really wanted to be a good lady and live with my husband, but now everyone sees me as a prostitute."

"Because of poverty, women are doing this," said Malalai Usmani, head of the women's rights group Balkh. "The government and other organizations should launch awareness programs to let women know about the harm caused by prostitution."

Back to other news for May 2008

Adapted from:
Reuters
05.18.2008; Tahir Qadiry


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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