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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                     

Islamic Republic of Iran

Iran's economy is marked by an inefficient state sector, reliance on the oil sector, which provides the majority of government revenues, and statist policies, which create major distortions throughout the system. Most economic activity is controlled by the state. Private sector activity is typically limited to small-scale workshops, farming, and services. Price controls, subsidies, and other rigidities weigh down the economy, undermining the potential for private-sector-led growth. Significant informal market activity flourishes. Corruption and shortages of goods are widespread.

Iran continues to suffer from double-digit unemployment and inflation - inflation climbed to a 28% annual rate in 2008. Underemployment among Iran's educated youth has convinced many to seek jobs overseas, resulting in a significant "brain drain."  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Iran

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Iran.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Street children in Iran

Morteza Aminmansour, Persian Journal, Oct 25, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 31 May 2011]

Most of them make it only to big cities (Mashad, Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz) to end up in situations as poor as those that they left.  Typically, this type of migrant is a boy, 10 to 18 years old with many siblings and a mother who earns a living by washing clothes or sending her children out to sell small goods or other products.  Often abused by family members, increasing numbers of these children look elsewhere for support.  With no papers or any other kind of documents and little money, they are easily transformed into street children.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

CHILDREN - There are reportedly significant numbers of children, particularly Afghan but also Iranian, working as street vendors in Tehran and other cities and not attending school. In January government representatives told the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that there were less than 60 thousand street children in the country. Tehran has reportedly opened several shelters for street children. The government's January report on the rights of the child claimed seven thousand street children had been resettled to date.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 28 January 2005

[accessed 13 February 2011]

[59] Although the Committee notes the high level of literacy in Iran and the measures taken by the State party to increase school enrolment and lower dropout rates, it remains concerned that not all children are enrolled in or graduate from primary school. Working children, children living on the streets and children without complete personal documents, particularly refugee children with bi-national parents, have reduced access to schools. It is also concerned that refugee children are currently only being enrolled in schools if their parents have registered with the authorities, and that the enrolment of refugee children is not currently being offered free of charge. It is further concerned about well-documented information that a large number of Baha'i students were not admitted to university on the grounds of their religious affiliation

[64] The Committee continues to be concerned about the large number of children living and/or working in the streets, particularly in urban centers such as Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad, and Shiraz. It regrets that the State party could not present studies on the extent and nature of the problem and is concerned that the centers known as "Khaneh Sabz", "Khaneh Shoush" and "Khaneh Reyhane" homes, which were established to assist these children, albeit in a limited capacity, have been closed down. It is equally concerned at reports of the round-up and arrest of Afghan children in the streets despite the fact that they were registered with the authorities, and that as a "condition" for their release the authorities request that their parents register for repatriation.

Inside Iran: The industry of child trafficking

Al Arabiya News, 15 June 2015

[accessed 17 June 2015]

Al Arabiya’s report also sheds light on how street children lack the most fundamental children’s rights.

It is estimated that the number of Iranian children living on streets is about 200,000. Reports say half of them are thought to be Afghan child refugees.

The parents of street children in Iran are unknown, thus they are left without identity cards or birth certificates. They also live in abandoned houses and public parks.

Grim life of outcast children

The Sydney Morning Herald, November 17, 2008

[accessed 31 May 2011]

When Mehr's sister, Sania, now 16, asked why Iranian children wore identical clothes and carried a bag, she was told that they were on their way to school. "Why can't I join them?" she asked her mother. "My mum said to me, 'Because we are Afghani and the Iranian Government doesn't allow Afghanis to learn, to go to a school.' "

The sense of rejection the Mehr family experienced during their years as refugees in Iran lingers. For these Afghan children, their only memory of their homeland was of being caught in conflict. When they arrived in Tehran they were deemed outcasts and deprived of financial, educational or social support. Forced to work illegally, some of the children and their father took to the polluted roads of the city, selling cigarettes and lollies. Many Iranians were resentful of refugees at a time of high unemployment. Iran has 1 million registered refugees and the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR estimates there are at least another million unofficially living there.

When Mehr's family arrived, unemployment was running at 12 per cent, and more than 20 per cent for those aged 15 to 29, who make up 36 per cent of the population. Even the UNHCR ended its education support to refugees in 2004, preferring instead to focus its resources on voluntary repatriation to Afghanistan.

Mehr tells how people on the streets would swear at her and her parents when they heard her conversing with them in Dari, their Afghan dialect. "The Iranian Government does not respect us, so the people look at the Government and follow," she says.

Iran street children rights, human rights

Morteza Aminmansour, Oct 30, 2007

[accessed 18 January 2017]

Most of these street children who were rounded up from the streets of Tehran by the authorities, according to the head of Social Service in the Iranian capital?s town hall. The majority of these children had run away from their homes to escape social pressures (because the parents lost jobs, addicted to drugs or involved in illegal activities).

Lot of these children make it only to big cities (Mashad, Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz) to end up in situations as poor as those that they left their homes. Typically, this type of children are in the age of 10 to 18 years old with many siblings and a mother who earns a living by washing clothes, cleaning homes for very low paid jobs (because they do not have any skills) sending heir children out to sell small goods or other products. Often abused within the family crises by family members or outside by strangers, increasing numbers of these children look elsewhere for support without any chances. With no papers or any other kind of documents and little money, they are easily transformed into street children and criminal activities.

Laws Are Not Enough: An Interview with Mehrangiz Kar on Children's Rights

Sasan Ghahreman, Payvand News, Gozaar, October 5, 2007

[accessed 31 May 2011]

In the current academic year of 2007-2008, about three million children, according to official sources, and five million children, according to unofficial sources, have been prevented from attending primary and middle schools across the country. Instead of finding a solution to this predicament and removing obstacles, the Iranian officials have threatened parents, mandating that if they refuse to send their children to primary and middle school, they would be fined up to 1,200 dollars. These threats have no effect. Low-income segments of society prefer to generate illegal income by forcing their children to beg on streets rather than send them to school.

A generation of street kids hustling in Iran

Kim Murphy, The Los Angeles Times, Tehran, April 22, 2007

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 31 May 2011]

Atefeh is one of the younger members of Iran's merchant class. Her sales territory is the notorious traffic jams of north Tehran. She moves in on potential clients when the light turns red, pressing her face to car windows, cocking her head to one side and putting on a plaintive face.

At 12, she isn't as good at plaintive as some of her younger competitors, two boys who are hawking Koranic inscriptions and balloons just up the street. Sometimes her face looks more furious than sad. But she still can clear 55 cents a day selling her packages of pink-and-red strawberry chewing gum to bored and surly drivers.

A decade ago, street children were rare in Iran, with its long traditions of charity for the poor, government aid programs and strong family connections. No more.

About 55% of the city's street children are offspring of the estimated 1.5 million refugees who have flooded into Iran from Afghanistan in waves over the last 20 years, school officials say, and many of the rest are children of single parents, mixed-nationality families or Gypsies. Many come from the growing number of families beset by drug addiction as heroin shipments across the Afghan border have multiplied since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

Most runaway girls in Iran raped within first 24 hours

Iran Focus, London, 12 July 2005

[accessed 2 September 2014]

[scroll down to Iran Focus – July 12, 2005]

In April, a number of government officials and security officers were arrested during raids on at least five houses used as brothels in and around the town of Neka, northern Iran.  Many runaway girls, some as young as 13, were being forced into prostitution by organized child prostitution rings. A number of officers from Iran’s notorious State Security Forces (SSF), commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and heads of a number of local government departments and institutions were among those rounded up in the raids.

Needy Youngsters Live On City Streets

Azam Gorgin/Charles Recknagel, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, Prague, 7 December 2000

[accessed 31 May 2011]

Iran's daily "Dowran Emrooz" reports that Tehran has 25,000 to 30,000 children forced by adults to live and beg on the street or to work as slave laborers in sweat shops.  The paper said the death rate among street children is high, from 100 to 150 a month. The cause of their deaths varies from malnutrition to diseases brought on by unsanitary conditions.  The adults who exploit the children often train them for criminal activities, including selling illegal drugs and alcohol.

Record Number Of Street Children In Iran Capital

Iran Focus, Tehran, Jun. 28, 2005

[accessed 31 May 2011]

[accessed 17 December 2016]

Some 1,949 street children were rounded up from the streets of Tehran during the spring period, according to the head of Social Service in the Iranian capital’s town hall.  The majority of these children had run away from their homes to escape social pressures.

Uprooting Child Labor

Panorama, Iran Daily, Feb 08, 2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 31 May 2011]

More than 8,200 vagabond kids were collected in Tehran alone during the first half of current year (started March 20). It is estimated that the number of street children handed over to the State Welfare Organization would hit 40,000 by the yearend.

Street Children, Women Trafficking in Iran (part 2)

Morteza Aminmansour, Persian Journal, Dec 21, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 31 May 2011]

Twenty–five thousand child squatters, most of the girls, live on the streets of Tehran, where growing drug use and prostitution are leading to a social crisis. Iranian MP Amani warned of the consequence of social inequalities on the young, calling "the unfair distribution of wealth" the main culprit of Iran's social ills.

IRAN: Focus On Child Labor

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Tehran, 31 May 2004

[accessed 10 March 2015]

Every day, seven days a week, Hamid stands in the middle of four lanes of unrelenting, heaving Tehran traffic, waiting for the lights to go red. He then weaves his way through the fumes and noise, tapping on the sides of cars. If he is lucky, a driver will lean out of his window and pluck from his hand a small sheet of paper - a poem written by the great Persian poet Hafez - in return for the equivalent of 15 US cents.

Appeal - Help street children in Iran

Susan Bahar, The Association for the Abolition of Child Labour in Iran, 20 November 2002

[accessed 31 May 2011]

In the span of six years the number of street children in Iran has soared from 20 000 to over one million. This fifty-fold increase in the number of children who are bereft of any kind of family protection and are treated as stray dogs by the authorities is as striking as it is unbelievable. Without any protection and pushed to their limits of endurance, these unprotected, hungry and traumatized children have been victims to all sorts of social evils.

Mashhad Housing Second Largest Number Of Street Children In Iran

Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA, Mashhad, Khorassan Prov., July 23, 2001

[accessed 31 May 2011]

Mashhad is home to the second largest group of street children after the capital Tehran.  There are roughly 647 street children in Mashhad, 320 of whom identified by the authorities.  Those identified are being taken care of by a center for street children.

Iran: Street Children Receive Limited Help (Part 2)

Azam Gorgin/Charles Recknagel, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, Prague, 7 December 2000

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 31 May 2011]

Recent reports in the Iranian press that 100 to 150 of the country's street children die each month have shed new light on the plight of small children who are forced to work on the streets. In the second of a two-part series on Iran's street children, RFE/RL correspondent Azam Gorgin tells how one charitable group tries to aid the children.

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