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This year, Azerbaijani journalist Sevinc Osmangizi found herself targeted by a smear campaign that variously accused her of being a double agent The oldest profession is alive and well in carefully-concealed brothels and on the streets.
I do not enjoy being with men. Dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt, with shoulder-length black hair and wearing no makeup, year-old Saida not her real name looked ordinary enough. But in this highly conservative society, she has sex with men for money, sometimes several times a night.
She has been a prostitute for six years, since the day her mother made a deal with a local pimp. A man almost 30 years old was waiting for me. He attacked me right away. I knew nothing; I felt only pain. She told her mother what had happened, but she got no response.
The old woman came again ten days later and took me back to that house. After that I started going on my own and getting money from rich people. She broadens her client base through referrals, and does not have a madam or pimp. Statistics are scattered, and few solid figures exist. But since the fall of the Taleban regime in late , prostitution has become, if not more widespread, at least more open. A police official in the northern province of Jowzjan, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that according to official figures, 2, families in his province alone had resorted to prostitution over the past 10 years.
The true figure is likely much higher. In many cases, prostitution becomes a hereditary trade, passed on from mother to daughter. The Taleban strictly controlled sexual activity, meting out harsh punishments for extra-marital relations and adultery. Married women who had sex outside marriage were stoned to death; others were publicly flogged.