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By olga on Dec 25th, 2006

As prostitutes are exploited in the Baku cafes, police officers sit back and watch the profits roll in

By Shahla Abusattar in Baku

Bad decisions don’t come much worse than the one Gulinara made when she agreed to sleep with a neighbor who promised marriage in return for sex.
“When we had sex, he said that if I did what I just did, I didn’t deserve a family. I knew that no one would marry me anymore. When my parents found out, they simply threw me out of the house,” says Gulinara.
Just 19 at the time, with nowhere to live nor enough money to survive, Gulinara took one of the few options open to women in her situation – prostitution.
“There is no work, and it’s quite expensive to rent an apartment. What else could I do?” she said. “Our mentality dictates that you either wait for the one who will marry you, even if he never comes along; or else you simply become a prostitute.”
Extreme as this choice may seem to those outside the region, Gulinara isn’t exaggerating. In the conservative society, women who shame their families by having relationships outside marriage often end up in the sex trade for good.
Like Gulinara, some find their way to the so-called "brothel cafes" along the Baku-Sumgait highway. These are reportedly controlled from behind the scenes by local police officers, who, instead of protecting the women, take a percentage of their earnings and often use their services. More

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