Just a week after Tehran’s police chief announced that there were only a 100 “street women” in Tehran, the head of Iran’s Sociology Association announced that the prostitution age in Iran had dropped by 8 to 10 years.
Dr. Gharai attributed this drop in age to such social issues as growth in the divorce rate, men’s desires for diversity, absence of resources for marriage, drug addiction, unemployment, etc, adding that the age of the bulk of prostitutes in Iran today ranges between 12 and 18 years. Reports of the latest research and statistics carried out by official media such as ILNA labor news agency confirm this trend.
Absence of Statistics
Hossein Sajedinia, Tehran’s chief of police, who claimed last week that there were only a hundred prostitutes in the city, had earlier said, “The police was ready to round up the street women within a week,” a claim that never materialized.
But a woman Majlis member Fateme Olya responded to the remarks of the police chief and said, “As a principle we trust these numbers, and therefore accept the view that it is not difficult to round up these individuals and the Majlis will provide assistance in this regard, and if they have been identified then there should be no reason for procrastination.”
Statistics from Iran’s Wellbeing Agency show that about 400 women are arrested every year in Tehran. But figures from other sources indicate that the number of street women and prostitutes in the capital is on the rise and much higher these numbers suggest.
In 2006 the head of the Sociology Association of Iran Amanollah Gharai had estimated that there were at least 200,000 street women in Tehran. It has also been reported that there are some 6,053 prostitutes behind bars across the country whose age is between 12 and 25 years.
Eight years ago, Dr Motamedi, the then director of social problems of the Wellbeing Organization (Sazemane Behzisti) had announced that two thousand street women and 500 run away young women had been rounded up in Tehran and had predicted that the numbers could rise to four thousand.
But despite these figures, no official statistics have been publicly provided by the government about prostitutes and strayed women in the country. Some have defended this by arguing it would not be prudent to present such statistics. And even though specialists on social issues have been talking about the worsening of this issue, government officials have remained silent or have said that the issue is under control.
Some judiciary officials of Iran had earlier talked about creating a databank on women prostitutes, but that was the only time such talk was made and no further comments about this were ever made since.
Street Women, Transmitters of AIDS
The absence of statistics on the number of street women is of interest partly because the pattern of AIDS transfer in Iran has under a change from drug as the source of the affliction to sexual contact, according to AIDS officials. In just two years, the number of transmissions from sexual contact has increased from 13.3 percent in 2009 to 17.9 percent in the current year. But even with these statistics, the fact remains that only 25 percent of all 80,000 AIDS victims have been identified in the country and according to Iran’s minister of health 50 percent of prostitute women in Iran were AIDS victims.
Who is Responsible?
Despite the acknowledgement of the problem, there seem to be no single government agency responsible for addressing the issue of prostitution. The spokesperson of Majlis’ social committee a few months ago had said that, “in the course of examining the issue of street women in this committee, the Wellbeing Organization announced that it would not accept the women that the police had rounded up, adding that even if it did it had the capacity to only keep 20 to 25 of them during a year.”
The facilities of the Wellbeing Organization for larger Tehran currently half the capacity to only keep a maximum of 50 street women, while the police rounds up between 300 to 400 prostitutes every year who are sent to the Wellbeing Organization through court orders. These numbers become even more pathetic when one looks across the country, as there are only 23 such centers in Iran.
Talking about this problem, an official has also said that runaway girls cannot be kept at government facilities because they have not committed any crimes. Tehran’s police chief alluded to this problem when he said last year that rounding up these women was going around a vicious circle, with no results.
And when the head of the Majlis social committee was asked two years ago to present a plan to address the issue of prostitutes and street women, she said, “our society has so many problems and issues that our top priority is unemployment and jobs for the youth, including other even more important issues.”
Street Women Await Punishment
One reason why government agencies do not work in harmony on this issue is because they view the problem differently. Specialists on social issues see the root cause of this to lie in social problems while the police view this as a law enforcement issue where violators deserve punishment.
... Payvand News - 06/20/11 ... --