Sale of kidney has remained as the last way of support for a woman named Hajar, who has a daughter and lives in extreme poverty. Women heads of households have been virtually abandoned by the government and government agencies and are very vulnerable.
Life has become a nightmare for Hajar. She is all by herself. She used to work in a workshop that was closed due to the Corona outbreak. She found no other place to work and no way to make a living and ended up stranded on the streets.
Early marriage, poverty and homelessness
In an interview with the state-run ROKNA news agency, Hajar describes her life story: “When my second year of high school was over, I couldn’t study anymore. When I was 17, I was forced to marry. My marriage only lasted 5 years. During these 5 years, I did not understand what my husband was up to. From time to time, one of the household items would get lost, but I didn’t think anything of it. After a while, my mother found out and took me to my father’s house. My husband did not allow me to take my daughter with me. A few days later, when I went to pick up my belongings, I came across an empty house. My husband had taken all the furniture.”
She explains the situation that led to her divorce and homelessness: “I overcame the obstacles and finally took my divorce. After 4 years, my husband agreed to let my daughter live with me. After the divorce, I had to live in my father’s house. They looked down on me, and my daughter and I was humiliated every single day. I had to send my daughter back to her father and sleep in the park myself. I wanted to go and stay at welfare housing, but the woman who was in the office told me that it would be better for your daughter if you take her anywhere else but here.”
Hajar, who was driven from her father’s house and slept in the park, started working in a workshop to support herself.
“I was working hard in a workshop that was closed because of Corona outbreak. One day when I was looking for a job and had been turned away, I saw an ad on sale of kidney. I told myself that because of my daughter’s life, I would sell one of my kidneys and get a house. I went to a few hospitals, but one of the nurses said because of Corona no one is allowed to sell kidneys. I’m still wandering the streets alone, away from my daughter.” (The state-run ROKNA News Agency – April 22, 2020)
Homeless female heads of households
According to official statistics, we have more than 3.6 million female heads of households in Iran, and an average of at least 60,300 women are added to their numbers each year. Unofficial statistics, however, are much higher, including women who appear to have a spouse and family but have to bear the brunt of the problems of all family members.
Women heads of households need a trustee and a guardian, they need official institutions to recognize them, understand their problems, and stand by them so that they can raise their children and deliver them to the society. (The state-run Rasaneh News Website – April 27, 2020)
But the fact of the matter is that women heads of households in Iran have no guardians. None of the government agencies has an understanding of the issue of women heads of households, and this is evident in their speeches, comments, and especially their policy decisions. The lack of care towards women heads of households have far-reaching social consequences. They are a vulnerable sector of the society that can become a source of many social and cultural harms, affecting the family and the people they associate with. But in practice, they have been abandoned by the government and its institutions and are not supported by law or any legislation.