Antonia Zerbisias and Pedophilia in Palestinian Society

Published: February 22nd 2010

Hamas wedding ceremony


The Kuwaiti Awan newspaper’s journalist, Shima Yusuf, investigated the phenomenon of child marriage in Gaza in light of reports on the flourishing import of young Egyptian girls from poor families for prostitution and slavery under the cover of marriage. In her article, published on December 28, 2009, Shima Yusuf writes the following:

 “There was a series of accounts on a new commerce via the tunnels [of Rafah] in which minor Egyptian females from extremely poor families were brought to the Gaza Strip in a somehow dark game which ends in either their marriage, service in houses or working in the oldest profession in history!

... one of the passengers [of the taxi in which the reporter drove] started talking of the golden solution via the tunnels, saying that it is possible to get an Egyptian woman for only $1,000 paid to the middleman at the tunnel’s entrance and handing him a copy of the groom’s identification card...

 “Quick tour at Rafah’s tunnels reveals that the story I’ve heard in the taxi was not a joke... Abu Asi [40 year old, working in the tunnels] is saying fearlessly: “I’m married to three women. The first one is a Palestinian who lives in my house located in the eastern area of the city of Khan Yunis [south of Gaza] and raises the children. The second and the third are Egyptians and were brought during my many shuttles in the tunnels between Egypt and Rafah. I persuaded them to marry me because of their extreme poverty.

 “Later I decided to make this marriage an investment [business] by purchasing a house in Egyptian Rafah [Rafah is divided between Egypt and the Gaza Strip] in which my two wives are living and helping me in bringing young girls from the communities adjacent to Rafah, and particularly from the villages of Al-Sharqia district [of Egyprt]. That is done by convincing the families of the poor young girls to marry their daughters to Palestinian men.

 “Giving his consent to marry his daughter [to a Palestinian man] the father receives an amount that does not surpass 1,000 Egyptian pounds [193 CAD] and a copy of the groom’s ID and his phone number, and then the brides lodge in my house in Rafah and the suitable husband is found for them. After finding the husband from whom I receive 1,000 USD, I send a copy of his ID and his phone number to my two wives and they in their turn send it to brides’ families. Then the brides are smuggled via the tunnels and handed to their grooms at the entrance of the tunnel in the Palestinian Rafah”.

 “When asked on the fate of the young girls brought by him, Abu Asi said: “I don’t care what happens with them. The most important thing to me is closing the deal, even knowing that some of them will be married, some will be sent for working in rich people's houses in Gaza and others are destined for the many drug dealers and pimps operating in area of south eastern Gaza.

“I asked Abu Asi on the number of minor girls lodged in his house. He said: “the number is beyond my expectations and that is an indication to the professionalism of my two wives and their capability of persuasion which made me renting more than a house as the number of the young girls reached now hundreds”. [9]

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