A special report by the NCRI Women’s Committee January 2015: Report on trafficking girls and women under the mullahs’ regime in Iran
Read Full Report:
The UN General Assembly defines the trafficking of women as, “illegal and confidential relocation of persons within the national borders, usually from developing countries and countries with instable economy. In order to take sexual and economical advantage of women and girls for the profit of users, smugglers, criminal syndicates and other smuggling activities including forced housework, fabricate marriage and stepchildren and confidential employment.”
The trafficking of women and girls to foreign countries, particularly to neighboring Middle Eastern countries, is very common under the rule of the Iranian regime. Hassan Abbasi, one the Iranian regime’s main theorists and a writer affiliated to the fundamentalist ideology of the Iranian regime, confessed to the regime’s state sponsored act of trafficking women in his official speech in 2008. Despite his faithfulness to the regime, even he accused the Iranian regime’s former Intelligence Minister, Ali Younesi, it’s former President Khatami, the head of the mullahs’ Expediency Council, the Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Basij, the Judiciary, mullah Shahroodi, the former Chief of the State Security Forces (SSF) and Tehran’s current mayor, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. He condemned them for their irresponsibility, inattention and failure to prevent the crisis of smuggling women and girls to Arab countries.
The rights of Iranian women have been abused from the onset of the establishment of the mullahs’ regime through it’s unwritten laws claiming that a woman values less than half of a man and others have to decide for her.
On May 26, 2004, Sharq state-run newspaper wrote, “Today a group of girls and boys are being put on sale in Fujairah, UAE.”
Smugglers of Iranian women and girls prepared the preliminary steps during an international exhibition, two weeks prior to the release of this report. The human smugglers chose 54 Iranian girls among 286. The girls were put on show on May 17, 2004 in a room belonging to an Arabic country, for them to be sent to a neighboring country. From there, the girls were prepared to be put on sale on the 26th in Fujairah.
After this news was published, the president of the Iranian regime at the time, Khatami denied the crime in order to exonerate his government and said, “… this is a big lie. As your president and someone who has followed up this issue with concern, I tell you that this is a big lie and is a result of a psychological war against the honor and superiority of the Iranian people.”
However, a few days later, an Iranian pilot for UAE airlines, Mostafa bin Yahya revealed that, “Everyday an average of 10 – 15 girls are sent to UAE on 9 official and 20 unofficial flights. The majority of these girls are from the cities of Abadan, Ahvaz, Zahedan, Tabriz and Kermanshah. The highest percentage yet belongs to Tehran and Mashhad.”
“Every month, 3 – 5 dead bodies are returned back to Iran,” he continued, “In regards to the importance of trafficking Iranian girls, a separate terminal has been given to Iranians only.”
Conducting special flights, specifically for such actions is completely impossible without the interference of the government. The mullahs’ hideously denied the action and then arrested the pilot. The public prosecutor at the time, Saied Mortazavi, also denied the news.
Simultaneously, SSF officials reported the arrest of 25 people who were members of the female smugglers unit to UAE.
In March 2003, it was revealed that “Karaj’s Green House” which was in connection and under the supervision of the judiciary and SSF officials in Karaj, arrested women and girls under the pretext of “education and training” and exported them outside the country where they would be sold.
Hamshahri state-run newspaper had also reported at the time that the cost for each girl between the ages of 8 – 12 is $300 – $800.
In September 2004, cleric Kashani, a member of the General Council of Ansar-e Hezbollah and the chief editor of “Ya-lasarat” newspaper, also disclosed during a factional dispute that, “several corrupted factions… are selected by the Islamic Republic and I am ready to prove this issue to anyone and provide documents. In some cases, agents engaged in selling Iranian girls to Sheikhs in Dubai, have some relations with these men (government officials). Being fully assured that no system would stand against them, they sell the Iranian girls to Arab Sheikhs for about 12 – 15 million Tomans… The runaway Iranian girls are first recognized by international smugglers and are kept healthy in rooms… then are transferred to some Middle Eastern countrie from Kish Island with the approval of some officials. The smugglers then receive 12 to 15 million for each girl.”
In another part of his speech he added, “… the corrupt gangs, whom are also armed, are supported by some real people in the government because they have a large sum of money for all these activities.”
On August 20, 2004, a social affairs expert, Susan Bahari announced, “Some time ago, 54 Iranian children were sold to some merchants in a market similar to a slave market in Dubai.” (News database reported by Radio Farda)
On December 25, 2005, Iran’s state-run newspaper reported a judicial official as saying, “Whoever has made an income of 15 million Tomans for the sale of every girl, is finned 300 thousand Tomans; and if the person pays this amount, he will be immediately released from prison. The method of dealing with some legal cases just makes you want to bang your head to the wall.” (News database reported by Radio Farda)
Finally, in 2006, the Revolutionary Guards Corps reached a new level of the crime and was ranked one of the worse countries in regards to human trafficking. In May 2006, the US State Department called the Iranian regime among the worse countries in its sixth annual report on human trafficking. In regards to the decrease of Iran’s rank, it wrote, “Reliable reports show that officials in the Iranian regime torture, imprison and execute victims of human trafficking.”
This shameful act reached an extent that the head of the Iranian regime’s eighth Majlis (parliament), Hadad Adel, was forced to confess to this reality in order to acquit the whole system.
On October 4, 2005, Hadad Adel, acknowledged that girls are being sold to neighboring countries and are abused by foreign embassies. In response to a question by the Iranian regime’s state-run television who asked Adel whether he had witnessed and acknowledged that girls had been deceived and were transferred to Persian Gulf countries and taken advantage of in some embassies and whether would denying such issues be beneficial or detrimental, he answered, “Obviously ignoring the truth is not a solution to problems. But there is a difference between ignoring the truth and mentioning matters to those who don’t need to know.”
On February 5, 2008, state-run Jomhouri newspaper reported on new human traffickers markets affiliated to the Iranian regime in an article entitled, “Iranian women in China’s cabarets” and wrote, “After Dubai’s sheikhdom, now China, which has witnessed a proper economic growth in recent years, is attracting more investors and has also become a place for such gangs.”
Efforts of the Iranian regime’s officials and it’s media to condemn anonymous individuals have been disclosed in factional disputes many times. In one of these arguments, it was revealed that Tehran’s former SSF Chief, Reza Zarei forced runaway widow girls and women into forced labor. The SSF commander in chief, Ahmadi Moqadam tried to whitewash the issue and described it as unimportant and under the pretext of having insufficient documents, released him on bail a short while after. However, newspapers of the opposite faction had reported 80 complainants with recorded voices and videos. (News database reported by Radio Farda – Aug. 20, 2004)
On June 8, 2008, Al-Malaf media center, stated the US State Department’s report referring to Iran as one of the top countries involved in human trafficking and wrote, “Khomeini’s Islam and his remains, i.e. the Islam of the Iranian regime has once again vitalized the era of the “pre-Islamic period” engaging in trafficking humans. The highest officials of the Iranian government are directly involved in this business; Rafsanjani’s son being one of its leaders.”
Abdul-Karim Abdullah, the author of the article added, “What other reports have not pointed out to in regards to the issue of human trafficking is the business of smuggling human body parts; in which Iran is also very famous for. We ask this regime once again, to you the turbaned clerics of Iran, what kind of Islam is this?”
Three days later, a government official by the name of Palizdar confirmed the news and said, “Their audacity has increased. Mr. Mehdi Hashemi is at the head of optimizing the country’s oil. He has gathered the most beautiful girls of Tehran and has taken advantage of them as he wanted. A woman came out of his place, making a complaint with a video showing what a catastrophic place it is. One is afraid to even talk about it.”
On December 13, 2010, Al-Arabia published a document by WikiLeaks that disclosed how the Iranian regime uses women for temporary marriages to influence and intrude on Iraqi tribal sheikhs. The report quotes an Iraqi Sheikhs telling a US Embassy employee in Baghdad that, “On every short visit to Iran, the Iranian regime provided us with temporary marriages with women in order to strengthen its intrusion in Iraq.”
The tribe Sheikh added, “After my first visit to Iran, I noticed that every sheikh that makes a visit to Iran have benefited from temporary marriages.”
The head of the SSF’s Immigration and Passport Police verified the “smuggling of Iranian girls to Arabic countries” and mentioned, “We don’t deny this issue but the figure is not significant.”
(Mehr state-run news agency – October 3, 2013)
The scale of the tragedy
The more the people of Iran are vulnerable to poverty and the more a difference of social classes exists in Iran under the mullahs’ regime, the more women and girls are victims of trafficking. Since the Iranian regime has spent all the country’s national resources for things other than the needs of people and because of its undying ambitions to create an atomic bomb and export terrorism, “currently 80 – 90 per cent of the Iranian people are living under the poverty line.” (Etela’at state-run newspaper – January 11, 2013)
According to the head of Health and Environment Commission of Tehran City Council, Rahmatollah Hafezi, currently there are 300 homeless females on streets in Tehran.
(Asr-e Iran state-run website – November 21, 2014)
On July 18, 2011, Tehran’s state-run newspaper wrote, “Even though statistics show that there are currently more than 2 million widows with children in the country, 60 thousand more add up every year.”
On July 17, 2014, Hamshahri state-run newspaper reported the 93 per cent increase in widows with children from 1996 – 2011, in which 82 per cent are unemployed.
Iranian women are facing a very difficult and restricted time due to the misogynistic laws of the government. As a result, thousands of Iranians are sold every year in sex bargains because of these circumstances. Figures show that there are 84,000 prostitutes and 250 brothels in Tehran alone.
According to the head of Iran’s Interpol bureau, the sex-slave trade is one of the most profitable activities in Iran today, at times conducted with the knowledge and participation of the ruling fundamentalists. Government officials themselves are involved in buying, selling, and sexually abusing women and young girls. He added, “After the 2003 earthquake in Bam, traffickers abducted female orphans and brought them to Tehran, where they were sold to Iranian and foreigner merchants.”
The Association Defending Victims of Violence issued a report in 2003 and wrote, “Every month 45 Iranian girls between the ages of 16 – 26 are only sold to the rich in Karachi.”
In May 2009, Hamihan website revealed that Iranian girls are sold for two million tomans a night in India and Arabic countries and added, “Usually the Iranian girls smuggled to Dubai and UAE are between the ages of 10 – 17.”
One of the victims said, “This is how my life has turned into in Dubai and now I have a very miserable life. Many of my friends, who were also sold, are no longer alive.”
Methods of taking girls as slaves
Commenting that smuggling women and girls is common in the Iranian provinces of Khorassan and Sistan and Baluchestan, as well as in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a sociologist said, “Traffickers identify girls and women in families with usually harsh economic conditions, introducing themselves as rich residents of Zahedan (provincial capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province) to woo them. After marrying them, they send the girls to brothels in cities such as Kuwaiteh, Karachi, etc. According to research, one of the regions where this phenomenon is clearly evident is the outskirts of Mashhad.”
Victims are smuggled in two ways. Some are formally engaged, their families given money, and taken across the border. Some others are abducted or tricked by members of a gang and taken out of the country without their father’s permission.
Some members of the gangs who traffic people, trick villager families and those who have children with incurable diseases into believing that if sold, their daughters will become independent and make their own money and will soon be able to provide for the family. In this way, fathers allow such gangs to buy their daughters.
Victims initially are unaware that they are being smuggled, but just a few days after marriage, they are transferred to the border region and from there to other countries by force, harassment, threats and deception. In the process, the women have no way to flee and are watched over like prisoners. A 22-year-old victim who was forced to marry an Afghan smuggler is now a mother of four. She says that in her husband’s absence, her brothers-in-law rape her and one of her children is the result of such rapes. The men have threatened to kill her if she discloses this.
Young children are sometimes among these victims. They are held in secret places until they reach the right age and are then sold in the Middle East and India.
In the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, girls are sold on the occasions of Eid al-Fetr and Eid Qorban (religious holidays) in a ceremony named “Halfa”. If a girl is not bought, she is forced to become a prostitute in nightclubs.
The Women’s Freedom Forum wrote in its 2010 Annual Report: “Footage was made available to Women’s Freedom Forum showing how some women are stashed behind the dashboard of cars and smuggled this way to countries such as Dubai. There have also been reports of women being smuggled by being stashed away in boats, for weeks; some are also smuggled using fake IDs and through connections the trafficking rings have with officials.”
The US State Department’s 2010 human trafficking report stated, “Iran is a source, transit, and destination country for women and girls trafficked for the purposes of sexual and labor exploitation. Women and girls are trafficked to Pakistan, Turkey, and France for sexual exploitation. The internal trafficking of women and children is fueled by an increasing number of vulnerable groups, such as runaway women, street children and drug addicts. The Government of Iran does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Iran must take steps to ensure that those who are punished for trafficking are not victims, and that victims are provided appropriate shelter.”
The Quarterly of MRAP (The Movement against Racism and for the Friendship of Nations) published a report in the first few months of Ahmadinejad’s presidency that reads in part, “The circumstances of children in Iran are tragic… The lives of many children in the religious dictatorship are more like a nightmare… About 50 Iranian girls between 16 to 25 years of age are sold every day in Karachi, Pakistan… The regime’s leaders are involved in human trafficking.”
In its 2010 Annual Report, the Women’s Freedom Forum wrote: “During the last eight years human trafficking has had a dramatic increase in Iran. According to some estimates, there has been a 600 percent increase in prostitution in recent years. The average age of prostitution has dropped to 16 and girls as young as 10-years-old are being sold. In many cases which have been reported, government officials are involved in heading prostitution rings and trafficking rings.”
Clearly, the antihuman mullahs’ regime, whose pillars are founded on misogyny, is not a signatory of the UN’s 2000 Human Trafficking Protocol known as the TIP. However, in the 21st century, all countries must abide by minimal international rules in order to be accepted in the international community
Article 4 of the Convention on the Elimination of Violence against Women, announced on December 20, 1993 in the UN General Assembly states:
- States should condemn violence against women and should not invoke any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination. States should pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating violence against women and, to this end, should:
- Refrain from engaging in violence against women;
- Exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons;
- Develop penal, civil, labour and administrative sanctions in domestic legislation to punish and redress the wrongs caused to women who are subjected to violence; women who are subjected to violence should be provided with access to the mechanisms of justice and, as provided for by national legislation, to just and effective remedies for the harm that they have suffered; States should also inform women of their rights in seeking redress through such mechanisms;
The only solution to end the governmentally sponsored trafficking of innocent Iranian girls and women is ending the misogynist and corrupt regime ruling in Iran. The mullahs’ have legalized all their immoral ambitions under the banner of Islam and have marginalized women and their rights because of this. Hence, ridding Iran of such a regime will be the only solution to establishing equality and democracy based on international conventions.
The Iranian Resistance, led by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, is the most organized and legitimate opposition to the Iranian regime. A resistance led by women is the only solution to an end to the misogynist laws of this regime. Mrs. Rajavi has provided a ten-point plan particularly focusing on women’s rights for a future Iran. Item 8 underlines prohibition of sexual exploitation:
- Sex trade is prohibited.
- Trafficking of women and forcing them into prostitution is a crime and those responsible shall be criminally prosecuted.
- Anyone committing sexual crimes against children shall be prosecuted.
- Any form of sexual exploitation of women under any pretext shall be prohibited and all customs, laws and regulations which allow the parents, guardian or a third party related to a girl or woman to give away the latter to another party for sexual pleasure or exploitation under the pretext of marriage or anything else shall be annulled.
Copyright©2015 by Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.