Fifteen-year-old Zeina’s sad journey to prison began two years ago when she says was sold into sex slavery. “My father came and took me to go visit my grandfather in Syria,” says Zeina, “and I went with him.”
CNN—The family trip turned out to be a cover story, and Zeina found herself faced with the most horrific possible reality. She says she was then forcefully taken from Syria to the United Arab Emirates and sold into sexual slavery.
But Zeina refused to surrender to such a horrendous fate. And when the opportunity presented itself, she ran away. “I’m proud of myself,” explains Zeina. “I turned myself into the police and decided not to stay in that situation.”
After escaping her ordeal, Zeina found herself being prosecuted, rather than being comforted. As punishment, she’s now serving two years in jail. A prison official confirmed her story.
Even if the girls do manage to escape the cruelty of their circumstances, it will be very difficult for them to escape the judgment of their families. “When they do come back to Iraq, if the family does accept them it’s very difficult because they’ve brought great shame to the family, they’re subjected to honor crimes. And we’ve come across cases where young women have preferred to stay in prison or custody than to be released and to face tribal justice,” Muscati said.