Rouhani government to fight trafficking in women

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s government is set to tackle trafficking in women, the head of the human rights department in the Women’s Affairs Office in Tehran has confirmed.

Speaking to the Ilina news agency yesterday, Ashraf Ghani Zadegan said the government proposals are within the framework of a bylaw to ensure women’s security against the violence to which they are too often subjected. Once complete, the proposals will be sent to the Shura Council (parliament) after getting the approval of the Council of Ministers.

In January last year, the US State Department issued its annual report on human trafficking across the world in which it said that trafficking in women had risen in Iran in 2015. The report accused the Iranian government of not doing enough to reduce or fight this organised crime. It also pointed out that there is an increase in human trafficking cases, forced labour and prostitution, especially in the absence of any action on the part of the government in Tehran.

Exploitation

Organised criminal gangs, the state department alleged, exploit Iranian women, girls and boys in sex trafficking. Its report also addressed an example of Iranian women and girls forced into prostitution in northern Iraq in 2013. The number of teenage prostitutes in Tehran, Tabriz and Astara, say the Americans, is increasing.

The gangs force Iranian children and migrants to beg in the streets, including those in the capital. They use also physical and sexual violence, as well as drugs, to force them to do so.

According to the US authorities, the Iranian government makes the victims of the gangs pay the price by accusing them of adultery and stoning them to death. This has been the policy in place, they say, instead of finding solutions to reduce the exploitation of women and children and human trafficking.

In December, the Iranian newspaper Jahan-e Sanat published an article entitled “Trafficking in Iranian Girls and Women” which revealed that this is now widespread. It reported the government’s claim that trafficking of Iranian girls and women is a cross-border problem, as part of the wider issue of smuggling.

The newspaper reported that these girls and young women are displayed in the cafes and restaurants of many luxury hotels in Tehran. They are also taken to tourist resorts, such as those on Kish Island, and other resorts in northern Iran. Yet more are taken out of the country to neighbouring countries.

Among the factors listed for the spread of this phenomenon, said the report, are unemployment and the lack of an adequate income, as well as addiction and the increasing divorce rate.

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