Displaced Malians turn to survival sex
Displaced Malians turn to survival sex IRIN
IRIN on Friday, June 7, 2013
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More displaced women and girls - some as young as 13 - are turning to sex work to get by in Mali where 14 months of occupation and conflict have forced 475,000 people from their homes in the north, according to NGOs.

NGO Danaya So (House of Trust in the local language Bambara), has registered 3,800 sex workers in central Mali’s towns of Mopti and Sévaré, as well as in Bamako, but the real number is much higher, says its director, Kadidjatou Coulibaly.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has registered 41 girls in Mopti aged 15-18 who have turned to survival sex. “Of the 41 we registered, almost all were without their parents or without their husbands who they said had disappeared or been killed during the fighting,” said Aminata Dicko Sangaré, UNICEF’s protection project administrator in Mali.

Coulibaly visits the brothels and houses where young women work, three times a week, trying to raise awareness of the health risks associated with sex work and to find women and girls alternative incomes. Most of them are single young women living away from their families.

She said her workload soared following the Islamist occupation in April 2012, and has remained high.

“I first heard about the rebels raping women in May, a couple of weeks after they occupied Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu. Almost immediately after we received the first group of young women.”

Over the past year the number of women living in `maisons closes’ or brothels in Sévaré and Mopti has doubled, while in the street, in bars and some hotels, more sex workers are visible, said Coulibaly.

At the end of 2012, staff at the local health clinic in Sévaré said HIV/AIDS was on the increase among blood donors, according to Sylvia Mollet, who works with the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Bamako.

                           
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