SYRIA IN BOYS FOR SALE
The following is from Boys for Sale. A Sociological Study of Boy Prostitution by D. Drew & J. Drake, New York, 1969, pp. 76-81.
After the war and until 1964, when a few arrests were made, there was brisk trade in German and Austrian boys who were “sold” into the Middle East. In Vienna, one American witnessed the sale of two 13-year-old Austrian boys for $50 each. These particular boys were purchased by an oil-rich Arab from Saudi Arabia for his own “harem”. The boys were taken by plane to Athens and then by boat to Sana in Yemen from where they were to make the last lap of the trip to the harem.
Arabs are very partial to blonds, both male and female. Some German boys were traced to a Syrian brothel in Aleppo — a piece of detective work which led to the closing of one of the last “wide open” establishments in that city. (It was an institution which had been in business without significant interruption for 400 years!)
The Aleppo brothel, similar to some of the places in Damascus (also recently closed), was an upstairs all-night coffee house where men came to eat and smoke after work. Street boys were allowed to come and sleep there, and often, after midnight, they would undress for the men by simply lifting their nightgowns as an invitation for someone to take them home to bed. Other more professional prostitutes worked at the bar as waiters and kitchen boys. A customer simply asked for a private room and gave the number of the waiter he wanted for the night. Some of the boys were Syrian, Armenian or Kurdish (often blond and beautiful) and a few were Europeans or half-Europeans. Those supposedly Bulgarian, Italian or Polish were actually little Greeks. Poor Greek boys in Aleppo and Damascus were sometimes impressed into the business to pay for their fathers’ debts. These are the “playful coffee shop boys” that Edwardes speaks of in Jewel in the Lotus. When Aleppo and Damascus were under Turkish rule, many of the boys were Circassian. Some came from the Balkans, others from Greece. During the many centuries of the Ottoman Empire, sexual relations with boys over 13 were legal — punishable with boys under 13 only if there were four witnesses!!
As a result of the zealousness of present popular reform governments, there has been a decline in boy prostitution of late. The decline is not terribly serious. There have been other reform governments which have tried to take even more severe measures, but, so far, their efforts have had only a temporary effect. Perhaps only when poverty is eliminated from the area can there be any real control of prostitution — especially control of amateur boy prostitutes like the ones who operate in the balconies of cheap motion picture theatres. The corruption of police and prison officials is almost impossible to regulate in a culture where salaries are low and bribery is an ancient custom. A pimp can get a boy out of a prison in just a few hours by bribing the judge, prison officials, and a lawyer or two. It is, therefore, impossible for officials to take a boy away from his pimp and to keep him away for long.
Indeed, in 1965, when a Turkish police officer was sent to jail for some departmental offense, his superior officer claimed the jailed officer’s 11-year-old son in payment of a debt, then sold the boy to a pimp. The boy was first offered to a visiting Britisher as a houseboy for the sum of $100. “You can have a lot of fun with him” the police officer said. “I guarantee he is a virgin and doesn’t yet know anything about anything.”
One pimp told the diarist that the best age to begin training a boy is when he is about 8 years old. A boy prepared psychologically and physically through anal massage and dilation at that age will always be more pliable and affectionate. He will give more pleasure because he enjoys more pleasure himself. The pimp’s system is to give each new boy an anal dilator of carved ivory. He uses it on, or rather in, himself as much or as little as he wishes (but sugar and sweets are withheld until the dilation has satisfactorily readied him for the next phase of training.) He is best prepared according to the pimp, by memorizing songs and poems and by watching more experienced boys having sexual relations together. No boy prostitute is as aggressive or as affectionate with his customer as the Arab-trained boy. Few boy prostitutes in other parts of the world can probably enjoy their trade as much.
Since the recent crack-downs of reform governments, a new type of prostitute has appeared in Arabian cities — the “auto boy.” At dusk or after dark, these young hitch-hikers stand at certain corners where automobilists must stop. If the driver looks at them and waves, one of the boys comes and gets into the car for preliminary conversation and bickering over price, if a deal is made, a drive is taken out into the country. Foreign tourists have been astonished at the aggressiveness of the youngsters who come up to their car windows and offer propositions. Many of these boys work in teams as part of a gang of street boys who are managed by a man who pimps for them (and also fences stolen merchandise they manage to pick up from careless clients, distracted during love-making.)
In 1966, there was a raid on a Beirut house where a man was living with some twenty orphan boys he was “protecting”. He was a genuine 20th century Fagin. The boys often wound up being tortured. One boy had been drowned, or so his would-be murderers thought, but he survived the treatment to report the operation to the local police. The newspaper reports didn’t say so, but all of these boys were salesmen by day and “auto boys” by night. They were from 9 to 13 years old.
There is a great deal of prostitution by shoe-shine boys who will go to a customers apartment “to shine all of his shoes” on request. These boys are usually homeless street boys who come to the city from a village or sneak across the border from some neighboring country. They often operate in pairs, the younger being the prostitute while the older keeps watch. The older boy, in exchange for protection, enjoys the favors of his young associate in their “spare time.” Street prostitution in Middle East countries grows out of a situation where there is a great deal of sexual activity among lower class adolescent boys because girls are so strictly secluded and protected. A boy of 15 who does not have a little boy lover is the exception in the village or the city. Often their activity consists only of mutual masturbation during “off” hours.
Runaway boys are easily seduced. The boy apprentice who works in a garage or shop with a large number of young men is subjected to sexual overtures and pressures that would be unbelievable in the West.
The large number of single men who marry late in life provide a large clientele for both female and male prostitutes. When the apprentice’s salary is only a few cents an hour, he is quite understandably tempted to accomodate this ready-made clientele. After all, boys the world over crave luxuries which only money can buy.
All Arab boys know a few men who will buy them some luxuries in exchange for little favors from time to time. It is but a short step from this type of seduction to part-time work in a brothel, especially if a boy’s regular job is in a brothel area. A poor, fatherless boy is often encouraged by an uncle or cousin to take advantage of his youth to “get ahead” in this way. Fatherless boys are also frequently seduced by their employers and then offered to customers as an incentive to increase business.