Children’s income is looted by government agencies
Child laborers in Iran are forced to work on the streets due to their families’ poverty and meager livelihoods. The phenomenon of child labor has become a social catastrophe known as the army of child laborers. Under current conditions, these children are denied rights such as mandatory free education, free health care, and healthy nutrition. The corrupt clerical regime does not take responsibility for Iran’s child laborers or street children.
According to Hassan Mousavi Chelak, the head of the Social Workers’ Association, “A child who works, sleeps and lives on the street is a street child. So, we have street children in the country. The majority of them are children who have to work to support their families” (The state-run Mehr news agency – April 10, 2021).
Organizing child laborers in Iran – or looting their earnings?
Despite international laws banning child labor, children represent the small breadwinners of their families. Child labor in garbage collection results in 2,000 billion Tomans daily. The municipality of Tehran alone benefits from child labor by generating 200 billion Tomans in revenue (The state-run ILNA news agency – September 12, 2020).
Thus far, under the pretext of organizing child laborers, the regime is taking children off the streets and placed them in welfare centers, where, according to the children, they are being harassed. In some cases, female child laborers are sexually abused. In short, the Iranian Constitution and other laws of the mullahs’ regime are the first justification for the violation of children’s rights in Iran.
Statistics have little bearing on reality
According to unofficial estimates, the number of child laborers in Iran is more than 7 million (The state-run Borna News Agency – August 4, 2018).
Due to inflation and increasing poverty, Iranian families experience more economic pressure every year. The number of child laborers has increased tremendously, especially given the number of Coronavirus victims, the rise in unemployment, and the increase in female-headed households and other low-income groups that make up almost 80 percent of the population. However, the regime continues to follow its typical approach to cover up accurate figures, especially as they relate to social harm and violence against women.
Habibollah Masoudi Farid, Deputy of the Social Affairs at the Welfare Organization, announced in 2016 that the number of child laborers in Tehran alone was 7,000 (The state-run ILNA news agency – August 20, 2016). However, in typical fashion, the regime contradicted itself when Mohammadreza Javadi Yeganeh, Social and Cultural Deputy in Tehran Municipality announced that there were 5,000 child garbage collectors in Tehran (The state-run Rokna News Agency – June 4, 2021).
This statistic clearly shows that the problem of child garbage collectors has not been solved. Moreover, in Tehran alone, the number of children sifting through garbage has risen by 1,000 compared to the prior year’s estimate of 4,000.
According to Rokna News Agency, one-third of the 14,000 garbage collectors in Tehran are children. But garbage collection is just one aspect of child labor: it is now commonplace to see children working as fortune-tellers, or selling flowers, chewing gum, and tissues at street intersections.
According to a report by a local Rokna News Agency journalist, “There are now so many working children in the city that any journalist who decides to report on children sifting through garbage can easily reach 10 of them within 2 hours near [the journalist’s] workplace and talk to them” (The state-run Rokna News Agency – June 4, 2021).
Physical harm to female child laborers
Female children are forced to work hard in unsafe places due to family poverty. Their lives and health are perpetually exposed to dangerous circumstances. In some cases, workplace accidents have led to death.
On May 15, 2021, a 13-year-old girl working in a bakery in Dare Shahr, Ilam province suffered critical neck and spinal cord injuries when she got stuck under a piece of heavy equipment. Due to the lack of emergency medical infrastructure such as helicopters or ambulances – even in neighboring provinces – and in spite of the Red Crescent’s help, the young girl could not be transported quickly enough to a medical facility in the provincial capital, despite her critical condition (The state-run Fars news agency – May 15, 2021).
The regime’s media failed to report the girl’s fate.
It should be noted that rather than working to eradicate poverty or allowing the Iranian people to enjoy their national resources, the mullah’s regime spends a large part of the country’s budget on reinforcing its repressive agencies.
The mullah’s regime is a system predicated on corruption and plundering of the people’s rights. As long as the regime remains in power, it will be impossible to eradicate the tragedy of child labor in the country.