June 12 is the World Day against Child Labor, introduced by the International Labor Organization to raise awareness of and activism against child labor. The organization’s goal is to strengthen the global movement against child labor.
According to unofficial sources in Iran, the number of working children in Iran is between three million and seven million. Most sources have not provided exact figures; instead, they estimate that these are minimum numbers (The state-run Shahraranews.ir – June 12, 2020).
Due to the regime’s lack of transparency in providing statistics, there is no exact figure for social harm, including child labor. The same statistics on child labor have been mentioned unofficially among some sources since 2017. However, poverty and child labor have skyrocketed in recent years.
The number of working children in Tehran alone is estimated to be about 20,000 (The state-run bazarnews.ir – May 21, 2022).
Economic growth in Iran has remained at zero since the 1990s. In such a society, families have difficulty earning a living to support their family members. Therefore, children from these families are forced to work. A child without experience, knowledge, or skills will inevitably choose jobs such as garbage collection, cleaning car windows, selling flowers and fortunes, or more arduous tasks, such as working on farms or in kilns (The state-run etemadnewspaper.ir – April 7, 2022).
For example, teenage girls are suffering in small sewing workshops in Tehran, such as in the Marvi neighborhood. They must sit and work at a sewing machine in cramped quarters from morning to night. They sometimes work as many as 12 hours a day with low wages. These workshops are usually either on the underground floor or the upper floors of ancient buildings in small, cramped rooms. As a result, these girls are always unprotected against harassment by their employers (The Kurdish website aasoo.org – June 12, 2020).
Minoo Mehrz, director of the AIDS Research Center, indicated that the rate of HIV-positive working children is equal to that of sex workers. About 10 percent of the children who are sexually abused experience HIV at the age of 7 (The Kurdish website aasoo.org – June 12, 2020).
Alireza Shafiei Yazdi, a government psychologist, expressed her concern about the effects of sexual harassment on working children. She stated, “Child labor is directly connected to social harm. Over the past five years, the rate of social harm has increased in Iran. Proportionally, the number of working children and the harm caused by their presence has also increased. The economic failure and problems have also led to an increase in social crimes” (The state-run etemadnewspaper.ir – April 7, 2022).
Pictured below are a sister and brother who work on the streets during the.