Iran Has 19 Million Socially Marginalized People, Activist Says

The current economic crisis in Iran has socially marginalized 19 million people and forced many underage children to work, according to Hadi Shariati, a lawyer and children’s rights activist.

“The number of people who live on the fringes of Iranian society exceeds the population of Syria,” Mr. Shariati said. “There are conflicting reports about the exact number of children who live in these underprivileged communities. Official reports put the number at two million; however, experts believe that the figure is closer to seven million.”

Shariati noted: “The number of underage children who have been forced to work has significantly increased in recent years. They either peddle goods in the streets or collect trash or beg for a living. On November 20, many nations around the world will observe the UN Universal Children’s Day. We must think of so many children and their families who are suffering from economic and social hardships in Iran. Many children who live in abject poverty are forced to work for a living.”

Shariati noted: “The Ministry of Energy’s Street and Sanitation Department must address the issue of underage children working as trash collectors. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs must enforce the child labor law.”

There are between 11 and 19 million socially excluded people living in 3,000 locations around the country, according to Dr. Farid Barati, the deputy director of the State Welfare Organization’s Centre for Drug Prevention and Treatment.

Dr. Barati explained: “Not every one of these people is a drug addict or a criminal. Their living conditions, however, make them extremely vulnerable to exploitation and susceptible to various types of social harms.”

Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi