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Iran juggles with taboos, holds first session of prostitutes and police

12/7/02

Tehran, Dec 7, IRNA -- Iran is pushing across the lines of social taboos, holding the first authorized meeting in which police and prostitutes as well as women parliamentarians discussed the problems of the 'street women' -- a reference to prostitutes in the Islamic Republic.

The press on Saturday quoted a female MP from Tehran, Jamileh Kadivar, as saying that the session was held at a hotel here so that 'women MPs could get familiar with the problems of these women'.

She criticized what she called officials' inattention to 'this most vulnerable members of the society', saying the roots of the scourge lied in economic woes.

"If we had adopted a proper management in various economic fields, we would never have been faced with the phenomenon of special women," Kadivar said, in another reference to prostitutes in Iran.

"A needy woman, who has no support, while officials have not fulfilled their responsibilities toward her, has to give in to corruption in order to make a sustenance," Kadivar, who is also the wife of former Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani, said.

She urged charity and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to pay prostitutes regularly in cash and provide for their employment.

Prostitution is banned in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but the country's press regularly report about police busting prostitution gangs.

A state official said in June that there were 300,000 prostitutes in the country and warned that the number could surge if measures were not taken to improve their poor living conditions.

The government fears that the scourge could hasten the spread of AIDS, which is relatively low in the country.


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