Opinion

80 % of Iranian children work on the streets to help their impoverished families

El 80% de los niños iraníes trabajan en la calle para ayudar a sus familias empobrecidas

The head of Iran's Association of Social Workers claimed that poverty is the cause of 80 per cent of Iran's child labourers.

According to the state news agency ISNA, Seyed Hassan Moussavi Chelek, head of Iran's Association of Social Workers, said that most child labourers have an addict in their family or belong to dysfunctional families.

Moussavi Chelek said the situation of child labourers will increase if the social security system is not changed.

"More than 80 per cent of child labourers are in contact with their families," Moussavi Chelek said in the interview with ISNA, implying that they are not beggars of criminal mafia groups.

"There are usually three to four times more boys on the streets than girls," added the head of Iran's Social Workers Association.

Working children in Iran suffer from disease and malnutrition

Moussavi Chelek noted that many of the child labourers are infected with HIV, according to 2013 figures. He also added that they are vulnerable to addiction, smoking, drinking and street violence, including sexual abuse.  

"Working children are deprived of education, suffer from malnutrition, skin diseases and other problems of digestion and food deprivation. They also suffer psychological problems," said Moussavi Chelek.

The head of the Iranian Social Workers Association also implied that these child labourers have always been neglected by the government.

The board of the Majlis Social Commission said in 2017 that the number of child labourers in Iran, according to most unofficial estimates, was between 3 and 7 million.

30% of Iran's population lives in absolute poverty

In a report published by the state-run ISNA news agency on 2 June, the head of the Research Institute of the Social Security Organisation said 30 per cent of the population lives in absolute poverty according to figures from 2017 to 2019. This is while from 2013 to 2017, only 15% of Iran's population lived in absolute poverty.

In a report published on 4 June by the state-run website Tejarat News, Mehdi Yusefkhani, the head of the Tehran Union of Poultry and Fish Traders said poultry production has declined making chicken carcasses and organs scarcer. Shop owners in Tehran said chicken carcasses and organs, including wings, feet, heart, liver, gizzard and even bones, have become scarce. Due to rising inflation, demand for chicken carcasses and organs, rather than chicken meat, has grown.

Economic problems directly affect the lives of disadvantaged, marginalised and working-class families, and the first victims of this violence are children, who are forced to drop out of school and into the labour market.

The regime has turned a blind eye to this growing tragedy. Despite the regime's claims to defend the poor, regime elites live a life of luxury in the Lavasan region of Tehran, dubbed the "Beverly Hills of Iran".

Cyrus Yaqubi is a research analyst and commentator on Iranian foreign affairs who investigates the social problems and economics of Middle Eastern countries in general and Iran in particular.