State experts admit some 60 percent of the Iranian people live below the poverty line; 50 percent live in absolute poverty
For women in absolute poverty in Iran, survival is the single priority
“The heavens were created for the children of rich officials and embezzlers, while poor people cannot even afford to buy eggs.” These words were part of a speech by Shiva Ghasemipour, a female member of Parliament from the Kurdish city of Marivan. She added, “Continuing on this path will mean even dried bread will be removed from the people’s table, after meat and eggs!”
On International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we see that not only is Iran not moving toward eradicating poverty; we see poverty spreading. Women are the primary victims.
The instability of economic policies is among the main reasons for the increase in poverty in Iran. However, women’s poverty and the social ills caused by it are directly related to official misogynistic policies and gender discrimination, institutionalized in the clerical regime’s laws.
The majority of the Iranian people live below the poverty line
The National Statistics Center of Iran announced in October 2020 that some 50 percent of the Iranian people live below the absolute poverty line. Consumption of red meat has decreased by 65% and rice by 34% across Iranian households. Simultaneously, with the triple-digit inflation rate of some food items, there is a risk that dairy products and legumes will be removed from Iranian families’ tables.
According to official statistics, in 2011, about 18% of Iran’s population lived below the absolute poverty line. This rate increased by about 24% in 2018 and to 35% in 2019.
Ibrahim Razzaghi, a regime economist, recently stated, “The fact is that there are currently 30 million unemployed and 60 million people below the poverty line” (The state-run Tabnak website – September 20, 2020).
However, unofficial estimates suggest that between 80 percent and 90 percent of Iranians currently live below the poverty line.
On September 20, 2020, the state-run Ayande-ye Eghtesad reported, “All Iranian workers are below the poverty line.”
“The poverty line for a family of four stands at about 10 million tomans. With an optimistic monthly salary of 3 million tomans, workers are in absolute poverty,” said Hamid Reza Imam Gholi-Tabar, an inspector of the Supreme Assembly of Workers’ Representatives, in a discussion with the state-run Tasnim news agency (The state-run Tasnim news agency – September 25, 2020).
The relative poverty line is the minimum viable income to live, but people below the absolute poverty line cannot meet basic needs such as food, clothing, and housing, and are considered absolutely poor.
The thought and sight of people sleeping in empty graves and ditches, on roofs, or in abandoned refrigerators batter the conscience of every human being. Today, they are a daily sight everywhere in Iran, under the rule of the mullahs. The regime’s officials and media talk and write about these people easily and without shame.
Many of the mullahs’ regime’s social and economic experts acknowledge that the face of poverty in Iran has become feminine.
“Poverty has become feminine,” said Zahra Shojaei, Secretary-General of the Reformist Women’s Association (The state-run Doustan website – June 20, 2018).
Women are victims of institutionalized discrimination in both society and law. They face numerous barriers to education, employment, and access to bank loans, and they do not receive government assistance or insurance benefits. In Iran, all women’s lives are affected by poverty. For example, some 82% of the 4 million women heads of households live below the poverty line and do not have a suitable job, yet they receive no government support.
Many women have no choice but to sleep under bridges, in unfinished houses, behind trees, or under cars on cold nights due to their extreme poverty. Meanwhile, poverty leads women to a variety of social ills.
Homeless women living in the bathroom and refrigerator
Having a humble home, or even just shelter, has become the dream for many Iranian women and families. The rapid spread of poverty in Iran has caused many families to take refuge in the slums and has increased the number of marginalized people.
“In the past, it was estimated that the population of slum-dwellers was about 25 million. We can even boldly say that the number people living in Tehran slums has increased by 60%,” declared Mohammad-Reza Mahboubfar, a viral epidemiologist and member of the Coronavirus Taskforce in Iran (The state-run website Etemad Online – June 22, 2020).
For example, out of Sabzevar city’s population of 250,000, more than 70,000 people live in run-down areas and slums. These people are deprived of the minimum facilities. Two painful reports from deprived families in the city show the plight of the poor.
A social activist in the Islamabad area of Sabzevar was speaking with a garbage collector when a girl named Hedyeh came forward and begged him to go to her house to show the family’s living conditions.
This social activist wrote about Hedyeh’s life with her family: “We crossed an alley full of sewage and garbage. Their humble home was at the end of the alley. When we entered the house, she showed me a bathroom in the corner of the yard and said, ‘the four of us live in this bathroom. The landlord evicted us because we could not pay the rent. We had to live in the bathroom of my aunt’s house. My mother and father and I work to make a living’” (State-run Sobhe-Emrooz Daily – September 20, 2020).
A woman named Roghiyeh lives at the entrance of Sabzevar with her husband in a broken refrigerator. They have been forced to live in this refrigerator because they are unemployed and lack any other shelter. They put their personal belongings on one level and slept on another (State-run Sobhe-Emrooz Daily – September 20, 2020).
Women heads of households unable to meet their children’s needs
Women heads of households are unable to meet their children’s needs because of absolute poverty.
A woman head of household said, “I have three boys – 9, 10, and 15 years old, and they are all growing. They like fruit very much. But I can’t afford to buy fresh fruit for them… Eating fruit has become a dream for the children of the poor. As a mother, I am ashamed for my children when we walk past a fruit shop, and my little boy says, ‘Mom, will you buy me some pistachios?’ I always say that now is not the time!” (The state-run khabarforionline.ir, September 8, 2020).
Women heads of households, who are the primary victims of poverty in society, are always anxious about earning money to buy meat, rice, fruit, and so on. In addition, they have to pay all monthly expenses such as rent, water, and electricity.
Babies abandoned on the street
Some poor mothers have no choice but to abandon their babies on the street with a note, because they lack the financial capability to raise them. In one example, a picture of a 5-day-old baby abandoned on Manzaria Street in Tabriz was published on social media on September 24, 2020. The baby’s mother had written a letter asking that her baby be handed over to a good family (The state-run ISNA News Agency, September 12, 2020).
Children lack their birth certificates due to poverty
Poor families in Iran have other problems: children who do not have their birth certificates. Statistics on the number of unregistered children vary, from tens of thousands to one million people, most of whom live in the border provinces, especially Sistan and Baluchestan and Khorasan Razavi (The state-run Hamshahri online News Agency, December 19, 2019).
Fathers usually say they do not have the money to obtain their children’s birth certificates. Without birth certificates, children cannot go to school or be admitted to the hospital, even if they are ill. In an online video, a little girl said she wished she could go to school. A father motioned to his little daughter, saying, “Because of thalassemia, all her organs are falling apart, one by one. But because she does not have a birth certificate, she is not hospitalized. My daughter is being paralyzed.”
In another part of the video, several girls, sitting on the floor, were asked, “Who does not have an identity card?” Everyone raised their hands. These innocent girls are all deprived of the opportunity to study, have a national identity card, or even receive a subsidy.
Poverty, main reason for the protests
Most of Iranian society suffers from poverty, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for regular civilians to bear the economic pressures to which they are subjected. But the mullahs’ regime thinks only of maintaining its sovereignty, and wants to suffocate Iranians by increasing the price of gasoline, electricity, and bread; and letting Covid-19 run rampant instead of curbing its repression, terrorism, and nuclear projects. As witnessed during the November 2019 protests, poverty is the main reason for the demonstrations against the Velayat-e Faqih regime. The Iranian people, including oppressed women, will overthrow this regime.