June 12 was World Day Against Child Labor. The 2022 theme of the world day called for increased investment in social protection systems and schemes to establish solid social protection floors and protect children from child labor. According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, government social protection systems are essential to fight poverty and vulnerability and eradicate and prevent child labor. Social protection is both a human right and a potent policy tool to prevent families from resorting to child labor in times of crisis. All members of the United Nations General Assembly, including Iran, are committed to combating the economic abuse of children. However, the number of child laborers in Iran has increased due to poverty as well as a lack of action on the part of Iran’s regime officials.
Regime behind increase in Iran’s child laborers
The plight of child laborers in Iran is one of the most unfortunate realities that has received little attention. Unfortunately, as long as there is poverty, ignorance, and inequality, we will continue to face see children working on the streets. These are the children who are living in the gaps of society and are often ignored. The matter of working children in any country is one of the most bothersome social issues. The existence and eradication of this phenomenon are directly related to political, economic, and cultural policies and plans by governments and policymakers.
In Iran, the labor of children under the age of 15 is considered a crime and is banned according to article 79 of the Labor Code. According to Article 80 of the same law, “workers” aged 15 to 18 are considered “juvenile workers” and can be officially employed. However, the lack of government support and solutions for child laborers in Iran shows that they are not important to Iranian officials and that these children have no share in their own country.
There are no official statistics on the number of child laborers in Iran, and the numbers provided by various officials vary greatly.
According to Mizan Website, Mostafa Iglima, the head of the Scientific Association of Social Work of Iran, said on December 5, 2021, “unfortunately, most working children are drawn to the street due to problems in the family because most of them have lost their families, their families and guardians are in prison, or their fathers are drug addicts or unemployed.”
“There are more than seven million child laborers in Iran. The number of children who work in the capital and on the roads is less compared to the number of children who work in workshops and factories in the cities because these children are willing to work for a lower wage, so most employers agree to use them,” he added.
The head of the Scientific Association of Social Work of Iran called the abolishment of child labor in the country dependent on solving the economic problems of families. He said that” when every family of four devotes three meals to eggs only, the cost of their monthly meals will be equivalent to two million and 800 thousand tomans. How can we expect children not to enter the labor market?”
Children collect garbage
Garbage collection is a tragic occupation when it comes to child labor across big cities in Iran. It is reported that the garbage collection gangs in Iran are among the largest syndicates of organized crime. According to government officials, the children only benefit from about 2.5 percent of what they collect from garbage bins, and the rest is pocketed by the gangs and those who supervise them.
Most children who work as garbage collectors are the breadwinners of their families. As a result, as long as the government fails to support their families financially, these children will continue to labor in the never-ending cycle of street work.
Child scavengers work for municipal contractors. According to child activist Mozaffar Elwandi, there are centers on the outskirts of Tehran where waste is separated, and children also live there. The child rights activist says that the municipality may not officially confirm this issue, but the fact is that children who are scavengers are at the mercy of municipal contractors.
While children’s rights activists believe that the municipality is deliberately turning a blind eye to the violations of its contractors, the head of Tehran Municipality’s waste management organization says that the contractors’ contracts mention the employment of people under 18 and over 60 and that children are mostly used by “gangs of garbage thieves.” However, children’s rights activists say that garbage collectors have special cards with the municipality’s stamp and can continue their work by paying 300,000 tomans every month.
According to Mozaffar Elwandi, the main issue and foundation of the phenomenon of working children is the economic issue, and the main issue is that these children are seeking to meet the economic needs of the family. In many cases, only a small percentage of these children might be working for gangs but they are still victims. According to Elwandi, sometimes two children in a family of eight are forced to work, and the family earns a living in this way. It is not true to say that all children are members of gangs and mafias.
Source » irannewswire