Kolbari is a dangerous job that people in the western provinces of Iran have turned to for a living due to the spread of economic poverty and lack of job opportunities. Kolbari can be summed up by this adage: “A bite of bread at the cost of life!”
As part of the job, one must carry 40 kilos on their back and travel along difficult mountain paths. If they reach their destination safely, the maximum money they will receive is only 400,000 tomans. The salary of a porter is daily. The day they work, the money is given to them on that day. And the day they do not work, there is no money.
According to the Kurdpa News Agency, 1,731 porters were killed or wounded from 2011 to 2021 (557 killed, 1,166 wounded, 8 missing). This means 1,731 women and families have been affected by the problems of porters in the past 11 years. (Kurdistan Press Agency – Kurdpa – June 29, 2022)
A lawyer researching the subject of porters indicated, “There are more than 100,000 porters in Kurdistan. That means that the lives of 40,000 to 100,000 women and families are tied to porters’ problems and have a traumatic lifestyle.”
Women in the families of porters – “A bite of bread at the cost of life!”
People become porters due to poverty and unemployment
According to all nine women in the families of porters, their poverty and deprivation left them with no choice but to do this work. They indicated that they would have taken a different job if they had other options.
In another part of talks with women in the families of porters, it was revealed that pain and long-term trauma have turned into their lifestyle.
Due to the lack of economic stability and security, long-term suffering and trauma have become a lifestyle for women in the families of porters. These women are in a constant state of distress, restlessness, mixed feeling of rejection, and abandonment – all of which have led to psychological, social, and mental exhaustion.
One of the women of the families of porters told the researcher, “We really can’t live like normal people anymore, I don’t remember when we had fun, when we were together, and when went on a trip. I’m always stressed and worried that something will happen to my husband. Those nights that he goes to the border, I do not sleep until morning. I’m just waiting for that phone call to inform me that something bad has happened to him. Now my husband is sick and hospitalized. This is the meaning of a porter’s life: Stress, frustration, worry, lack, and poverty!”
The women in the families of porters are deprived of their individual, social, educational, and cultural rights. Thus, this oppressed and deprived social class lacks the opportunity for growth and development. These women lack healthcare, hygiene, quality of life, psychological support, and social care.
In Kurdistan, due to the vicious cycle of deprivation and poverty caused by the mullahs’ regime, Kurdish women in the families of porters have sad and painful lives.