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LEBANON: Sex trafficking remains a hidden crime

Trafficking

They are lured into Lebanon to work as models, masseuses or dancers in nightclubs. But some of these young Eastern European women, especially from Moldova, are sold by criminal networks to brothels, where they are forced to work as prostitutes.

These were among the findings of a report about human trafficking in Lebanon released recently by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

According to the report, Lebanon appears to be a destination for potential victims of human trafficking, especially for sex-related purposes. But it remains very difficult to assess the gravity of the phenomenon partly because the crime of trafficking remains hidden and few cases are reported, the report said:

Victims are afraid to speak out, dreading retribution or stigmatization. Many simply do not know their rights. Silence perpetuates the cycle of exploitation.

Another major obstacle in identifying and helping victims is the absence of laws explicitly criminalizing trafficking. Only about 60 cases of human trafficking are officially identified every year in Lebanon, which, according to the report, does not reflect the reality of the situation in the country.

Lebanese authorities claim they are trying to fight trafficking. Recently, Lebanon's Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar described trading in human beings as “contrary to all the rules and principles of any contemporary and civilized society."

Raed Rafei in Beirut

Photo: A woman dances on the bar of a Beirut nightclub. Credit: Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images

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