Robin and I accompanied a Hungarian journalist named Attila and another freelance journalist from Ohio named Mike, on a visit to Al-Bataween, a neighborhood of pimps, prostitutes and drugs, similar to the flavalas in Rio. Attila had brought us here because he is working on a story about the prostitute slave trade in Iraq and is trying to develop some sources. All journalists here have a driver-fixer who takes them to their destinations, translates for them and assists them with the local culture. Attila’s driver-fixer for this trip was Akeem, a former Iraqi army officer whose excellent English had been polished by a sojourn at a language school in Michigan.  We stopped at a tiny restaurant completely open to the street side at the front with no other window or door. It was dark inside but we could make out three men seated at u shaped table facing us. Attila figured the neighborhood bar might be a good starting point for researching his story.

Copyright 2005 Leslie Hope