Second Hand Holidays in Kut: Displaced Iraqis Equal Boom for Used Goods Market
In the city of Kut, one of the biggest beneficiaries of this year's Eid al-Fitr holiday – the celebration that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and which is of similar importance to Europeans' Christmas – is the second hand market.
Usually families will dress up, eat celebratory meals and give gifts during this holiday. And this year a lot of the people in this eastern Iraqi city are buying those gifts and new clothes at the second hand market, or shishan, as it is known locally.
Low income families in Kut, as well as Iraqis displaced by the security crisis caused by the extremist Islamic State group, say they simply cannot afford to buy brand new anymore. And sellers of brand new clothes say they've had to put their prices up because of a decrease in the value and stability of the Iraqi dollar.
“The shishan market is the best place for poor or for displaced families to shop,” says one woman who wished to be known only as Umm Tawfiq, or the mother of Tawfiq; she is in her 50s, a former school teacher and one of Iraq's millions of displaced people – originally from Ninawa province where the security crisis began, she has no idea when she will be able to return home.
“We have no other choice than the shishan market,” says the mother of four, who also buys clothes second hand because any income the family does have must be spent on ore urgent items.