A BBC investigation has uncovered a secret world of sexual exploitation of children and young women by religious figures.
Clerics are grooming vulnerable girls in Iraq and offering them for sex, using a controversial religious practice known as “pleasure marriage”.
The teenager married too many times to count
By Nawal al-Maghafi
(BBC NEWS) Rusul woke to find herself alone. Her new husband had gone. The marriage had lasted just three hours.
It wasn’t the teenager’s first marriage. It wasn’t even her second, third or fourth. In fact she’s been married too many times for her to count.
Rusul’s harrowing way of life was triggered by an encounter when she was at work.
She would watch as girls not much older than her in tight clothing and bright make-up came in to wait expectantly. Older men would soon come in to pick them up.
“They were such beautiful young girls, I couldn’t understand why any girl would sell herself like this,” she says.
She herself was also vulnerable – estranged from her family and supporting her sister Rula.
“This is something that is very widespread. There are many girls like me”
“I can take a photo of her and send you her photo… Then when you come back she’s yours”
“If you are a divorced woman you do not have a future, you are looked at as a tainted person” “Once you have reached that situation you are very vulnerable to the cleric who whispers in your ear that they have the solution.”