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Humanitarian Assistance For Displaced Malian Women Needed To Prevent ‘Survival Sex’

Writing in an opinion piece in The Hill’s “Congress” blog, Marcy Hersh, a senior advocate at Refugees International, says that some displaced Malians are resorting to “survival sex, a form of prostitution used by those in extreme need.” She notes, “One year ago, following a coup that ousted Mali’s president, insurgent groups moved in and occupied much of the north,” forcing people to leave the war-torn region. “‘Displaced women in Bamako who engage in survival sex will often have multiple clients to be able to pay for their rent, food, and clothes,’ [a] humanitarian worker explained,” Hersh notes, adding, “There is no way to know how many women and girls are engaging in survival sex in Bamako, but local humanitarian organizations say it is a highly visible problem.” She states, “The humanitarian response to the scourge of survival sex in Mali should be straightforward. Increasing humanitarian assistance to these communities by offering basic support in the form of food, cash, and health care could potentially eliminate the need for survival sex” (10/17).