Religious Fundamentalist Militants Storm Baghdad Brothel Killing 29 Sex Workers

NSWP stands in solidarity with sex workers the world over and mourn the deaths of 31 people in Baghdad, Iraq on 12 July 2014. Religious militia are suspected to behind the massacre in a brothel in the suburb of Zayouna which is known to be a red-light district in the capital city of Iraq. Among the dead, were 29 women and two men who were shot at close range in what can only be described as an execution of all those present in the brothel. The gunmen left a message on the front door warning people that ‘This is the fate of any prostitution’.

The CP Middle East reported that although the police have not pinned responsibility for the attack on any group, many media outlets and critics suggest the local Shiite militia, an extremist Islamic group, is responsible for the massacre. The group has previously been connected to similar attacks in May 2013 in the same area, where militants attacked brothels and liquor stores. These businesses were targeted due to Islamic laws' opposition to alcohol and prostitution.

The Daily Beast reported that locals in the area suspect members of the Shiite group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, also known as the "League of the Righteous," is responsible for the attack. The group holds significant authority in the area of Zayouna and often seeks to punish what it sees as moral crimes that contradict the teachings of Islam.

"Although members of the extremist group seek to punish immoral acts such as prostitution, those living in Zayouna argue that the militant group holds a double standard regarding prostitution." An Iraqi man selling water near the scene of the crime told The Daily Beast that the same militants who attacked the brothel have previously visited the apartment complex for services.

"Everyone knew it was prostitutes there; the militia killed them," the vendor told The Daily Beast. "The same ones who killed them used to visit," he added. The media outlet notes that although it is unclear how the vendor would have had this information, it is a locally-held view that the attacking militants were also customers of the brothel.

NSWP condemns in the strongest of terms these killings by religious fundamentalists of women and men because of the work they did.