That's what she's called by the many Iraqi sex traffickers and pimps who contact her several times a week from across the country. They think she is one of them, a peddler of sexual slaves. Little do they know that the stocky auburn-haired woman is an undercover human-rights activist who has been quietly mapping out their murky underworld since That underworld is a place where nefarious female pimps hold sway and where impoverished mothers sell their teenage daughters into a sex market that believes females who reach the age of 20 are too old to fetch a good price.
The trafficking routes are both local and international, and most often connect to Syria, Jordan and the gulf primarily the United Arab Emirates. The victims are trafficked either illegally on forged passports or "legally" through forced marriages.
A married female, even one as young as 14, raises few suspicions if she's traveling with her "husband. See Iraq's return to normality. Nobody knows exactly how many Iraqi women and children have been sold into sexual slavery since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in There is no official number because of the shadowy nature of the business.
Baghdad-based activists like Hinda and others estimate it to be in the tens of thousands. Still, it remains a hidden crime, one that the U. State Department's Trafficking in Persons report says the Iraqi government is not combating. Baghdad, the report says, "offers no protection services to victims of trafficking, reported no efforts to prevent trafficking in persons and does not acknowledge trafficking to be a problem in the country. Baghdad's Minister of Women's Affairs, Nawal al-Samarraie, resigned last month in protest of the lack of resources provided to her by the government.
To date, the government has not prosecuted any traffickers. And for the past year it has prevented groups like Mohammed's from visiting women's prisons, where they have previously identified victims, many of whom are jailed for acts committed as a result of being trafficked, such as prostitution or possessing forged documents. Now 18, Atoor married her year-old sweetheart, a policeman called Bilal, when she was Three months later he was dead, killed during one of the many bloody episodes in Iraq's brutal war.
After the obligatory four-month mourning period dictated by Islamic Shari'a law, Atoor's mother and two brothers made it clear that they intended to sell her to a brothel close to their home in western Baghdad, just as they had sold her older twin sisters.
Frightened, she told a friend in the police force to raid her home and the nearby brothel. His unit did, and Atoor spent the next two years in prison. She was not charged with anything, but that's how long it took for her to come before a judge and be released. My mother used to spoil me. Yes, she sold my sisters, but she regretted that. I thought that she loved me. Raped at 16, she was disowned by her family and left homeless.
In many parts of the Arab world, the stigma of compromised chastity, even if it was stolen, is such that victims are at best outcasts and at worst killed for "dishonoring" their family or community. Desperate and destitute, Hinda turned to prostitution. Now 33, she is using her knowledge of the industry to infiltrate trafficking rings across the country.
She gathers information about the victims, where they are from, how much they're sold for and who is buying them. Most often she poses as a buyer for overseas clients, a cover that enables her to snap pictures of victims and claim that they are for her potential customers. She drags out the negotiations for several days, knowing that the victims are usually sold during that period.
Playing a disappointed pimp helps keep her cover intact, she says. She can't rescue the girls, but the hope is that when the government decides to take trafficking seriously, her work and that of others will eventually help prosecute offenders and identify victims.
She moves away from each trafficking ring as quickly as she can. To linger would be to invite suspicion. These days, she says, suspicion is getting harder to avoid.
She has been beaten before, by the security guards of pimps who suspect her of encouraging young victims to escape or offering them help. In the past week she has received several death threats, some so frightening and persistent that she penned a farewell letter to her mother.
I'm scared that I'll be killed," she says, wiping away her tears. If I do, it means I've given up, and I won't do that. I have to work to stop this.