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Mohammed had a story about Zarqa, one of the only cities in Jordan. Here, law and order is in the hands of the mafia, not the government. I will say nothing here.
Zarqa is a large industrial town of roughly one million inhabitants. The majority of this influx came from Palestine, Jordan being one of the only countries that welcomed the refugees as citizens with a right to work. The city was transformed into the industrial centre of Jordan and has paid the price for such rapid progress, to the extent that civil society has broken down.
There are parts of the town where the police cannot enter for fear of assault. Foolishly thinking he was using the term in jest, I asked Mohammed whether he was referring to a mafia similar to that depicted in TV shows such as The Sopranos.
Patiently, he explained that the Zarqa mafia is much worse. Does he traffic young boys to the Gulf where they are sold as sex slaves? Does he actively prevent these children whose lives he is destroying seek help for the abundance of STIs they are contracting? He described the work of Noor, his friend, who used to interview the boys who were being prostituted to find out the scale of the problem.
There has been no official research into child prostitution in Zarqa, so the real extent of it remains unknown. Likening it to the rampant and very visible growing of marijuana along the road to the airport, it seemed to Mohammed that the Jordanian government is more than happy to sweep the problem under the carpet and avoid official recognition of this crime.