Iran: Rise in Poverty and Forced Labour Endangering Lives and Future of Iranian Children


Close to a quarter of Iran’s population are rural residents many living in slums who spend their lives in poverty and thus there is an increasing need for the families who have no choice but to send their children to work to help with the expenses, and even if they find a job for a mere amount of money (less than a few dollars per day) they cannot afford to pay for the escalating high prices of food and commodities.

Consequently, there is a rising rate of child labour, particularly young girls working in Brick kilns and various workshops, especially carpet weaving workshops where they spend most of their childhood beside carpet scaffolds yet they live in absolute poverty.

In Iran under the rule of mullahs, many working children are forced to work as garbage collectors searching in garbage bins and garbage dump areas for food or whatever they can find to sell for a few dollars or they have to work in hazardous conditions or work as Kolbars or street vendors, or else they have to panhandle in the streets due to poverty and their family’s need to meet the end needs.

According to government’s official reports, there are nearly 2 million child workers in Iran now, and according to “unofficial reports, 7 million”. The state-run ILNA news agency published a report on child labor on October 13 revealing shocking figures of poor suburbanites particularly the situation of poor children.

ILNA’s report also notes garbage-collector children in Mahmoud Abad, southern Tehran and describes the place as such: “Loads of garbage are on the ground. Going down between piles of garbage, you can see many children collecting smelly trash among all kind of rubbish ranging from syringe needle, dead rats, to broken glasses and waste foods.”

In response to ILNA reporter’s questions who asked whether it is worth working here, the kids replied “We have no choice but to sell these garbage daily for at least three dollars to support our family.”

While their bodies are marked with wounds and various skin disease, the kids described their situation as worse than death. “But doesn’t it worsen your situation?” the reporter asked the kids. “Worsen our situation? What is worse than this? Of course, it’s worse than death!” replied a kid .

But what is the government doing to eliminate poverty and end these children’s inhumane situation? In June 2018, Ali Rostamian, a member of the regime’s parliament, told state-run Mehr news agency, “the Welfare Organization has no agenda for organizing the children of labor at all.”

Instead of trying to solve the problem, government officials resort to suppression and punishment. In their most recent effort to combat child poverty, about a year ago, Tehran’s council resorted to collecting children off the streets and penalizing their parents without providing any real solution to their needs. This was followed with a heavy wave of criticism by a number of human rights and child rights activists as well as scholars and civil rights activists, but the authorities provided no answer or solution rejecting or suppressing any call to address the situation properly.

The only solution is the inevitable overthrow of Iran’s ruling religious fascism that is facing social tensions and economic crises, especially high prices, unemployment, poverty, and inequality at a critical mass. Everyone senses the explosive state of society and the mullahs cannot offer a solution and they are neither willing nor able to resolve these problems.