July 30 is United Nations World Day Against Human Trafficking, established to raise awareness of the victims of human trafficking and promote and protect their rights. Human trafficking refers to human trafficking for sexual slavery, forced labor, and commercial sexual abuse. Human trafficking is condemned as a violation of human rights by international treaties.
The purpose of World Day Against Human Trafficking is to draw the international community’s attention to this problem. Women remain one of the main targets of human trafficking. Of the 10 victims identified worldwide, 5 were adult women, and 2 were young girls. Overall, 50% of identified victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation.
Those affected by human trafficking networks are extremely vulnerable. The economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic exposes more people to trafficking. Millions of women and children are unemployed, have no access to education, and lack social support. These people are at the most risk of human trafficking. Thus far, the Iranian regime has failed to meet any of the standards for combating human trafficking, as noted in the U.S. Department of State’s 21st Annual Report.
New U.S. Department of State report on human trafficking in Iran
The U.S. Department of State released its latest annual report on human trafficking worldwide in June 2021.
In this report, as in previous years, Iran is in tier 3 in the countries involved in human trafficking. According to the report, the Iranian regime has not made any progress since 2020.
“The government failed to identify and protect trafficking victims among vulnerable populations and continued to treat trafficking victims as criminals, including child sex trafficking victims. Victims continued to face severe punishment, including death, for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit, such as engaging in commercial sex and immigration violations,” the report added.
The report states that the regime continues its years-long pattern of violating the rights of victims of sex trafficking. Government officials have made no attempts to reduce the demand for sexual services, child marriage, or child sexual abuse.
“As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Iran, and traffickers exploit victims from Iran and abroad. The ongoing worsening of the Iranian economy, as well as serious and ongoing environmental degradation in Iran, have significantly exacerbated Iran’s human trafficking problem, particularly for vulnerable and marginalized communities such as ethnic minority groups, refugee and migrant populations, and women and children.
“Iranian and some foreign women and girls and some men are highly vulnerable to sex trafficking in Iran. Although prostitution is illegal in Iran, a local NGO estimated in 2017 that prostitution and sex trafficking are endemic throughout the country, and reports estimate sex traffickers exploit children as young as 10 years old,” the Department of State added in its report.
Moreover, “The government reportedly condones and, in some cases, directly facilitates the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of adults and children throughout the country; Iranian police, IRGC, Bassij, religious clerics, and parents of victims are allegedly involved in or turn a blind eye to sex trafficking crimes.
The demand for commercial sex reportedly occurs in large urban centers, including the major pilgrimage sites of Qom and Mashhad; reportedly Iranian, Iraqi, Saudi, Bahraini, and Lebanese women in these locations are highly vulnerable to sex trafficking… Iranian women, boys, and girls are vulnerable to sex trafficking abroad, including in Afghanistan, Armenia, Georgia, Iraq, the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), Pakistan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).”
Iranian girls under the age of 14 are trafficked abroad
The shocking tragedy of human_ trafficking, particularly the trafficking of women, is organized by the government. Human trafficking in Iran is done by land, air, and sea. Arab countries often import women and girls who are frequently trafficked from Iran.
Trafficked girls are as young as 14 years old.
According to the Scientific Quarterly of Disciplinary Knowledge of Police, Iran has overtaken Eastern and European countries in the trafficking of 14-year-old girls (February 2021).
Trafficking in women and girls is among the most lucrative forms of trafficking, after drugs. The trafficking of women and girls in Iran’s border provinces has been increasing. One of these centers exists in the southern city of Bandar Abbas, a location close to the Persian Gulf countries.
Iranian women and girls are the main victims of human trafficking by state-backed gangs. They are trafficked to Arab countries, especially Dubai and other parts of the UAE. They are trafficked for prostitution, sexual exploitation, slavery, and forced marriage.
Runaway girls make up a large number of the trafficked women and girls. About 80% of runaway girls are from divorced families. Poverty is another primary reason for trafficking in girls in Iran. Many victims of human trafficking do not dare speak publicly about themselves or their families for fear of retribution.
Human trafficking is a crime and an insult to human dignity. Those trafficked are taken to different countries, regardless of their rights. This issue, known in today’s UN terms as “modern slavery,” is causing great harm to individuals and their families and communities.