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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                            

Islamic Republic of Iran

Iran's economy is marked by an inefficient state sector, reliance on the oil sector, which provides the majority of government revenues, and statist policies, which create major distortions throughout the system. Most economic activity is controlled by the state. Private sector activity is typically limited to small-scale workshops, farming, and services. Price controls, subsidies, and other rigidities weigh down the economy, undermining the potential for private-sector-led growth. Significant informal market activity flourishes. Corruption and shortages of goods are widespread.

Iran continues to suffer from double-digit unemployment and inflation - inflation climbed to a 28% annual rate in 2008. Underemployment among Iran's educated youth has convinced many to seek jobs overseas, resulting in a significant "brain drain."  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Iran

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Iran.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Child Prostitution Ring Run By Revolutionary Guards Officers Uncovered In Iran

Iran Focus, Neka, Apr. 11, 2005

[accessed 31 May 2011]

A number of government officials and security officers were arrested during raids on at least five houses used as brothels in and around the town of Neka (northern Iran).  The raids, conducted during the past two weeks, uncovered several organized child prostitution rings running the brothels.  Many runaway girls, some as young as 13, were being forced into prostitution by these gangs.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 31 August 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The legal age requirements for consensual sex are the same as those for marriage, as sex outside of marriage is illegal. There are no specific laws regarding child sexual exploitation, with such crimes either falling under the category of child abuse or sexual crimes of adultery. The law does not directly address sexual molestation nor provide a punishment for it.

According to CHRI, the legal ambiguity between child abuse and sexual molestation could lead to child sexual molestation cases being prosecuted under adultery law. While no separate provision exists for the rape of a child, the crime of rape, regardless of the victim’s age, is potentially punishable by death.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 28 January 2005

[accessed 13 February 2011]

[70] The Committee is concerned about reports of trafficking and sale of persons under 18 years of age, particularly young girls from rural areas, facilitated by "temporary marriages" or "siqeh" - marriages which last from 1 hour to 99 years.  It is also concerned at reports of the trafficking of such persons from Afghanistan to Iran, who are apparently sold or sent by their families in Afghanistan for exploitation, including cheap labor.

Iran street children rights, human rights

Morteza Aminmansour, Oct 30, 2007

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 31 May 2011]

The prostitution of children also has surfaced as a matter of concern. In 2000, Iranian authorities closed down six brothels in Tehran and arrested 35 people, including some minors. Every day, an average of 45 Iranian girls (Mostly under 18) run away from home to escape poverty, abuse, and social imprisonment. Though some are picked up by the police and brought to welfare organizations, many falls into the hands of organized prostitution rings or drift into crime and the sex trade (they were transported to other countries such as UAE for rich Arabs or to Afghanistan and Pakistan to work as prostitutes; some simply disappear. Police in Tehran reportedly round up 90 runaway children every day in average, and as of September 2001, more than 900 girls and 700 boys (the age between 10-18) were reported to have fled their homes in Tehran. Often times, the young runaways are raped or even killed by criminal Gangs in Tehran. According to some recent reports, one young woman in Tehran is raped and murdered every 6 days, as criminals increasingly take advantage of runaways children.

Iran signs protocol on child rights

Press TV, Sep 28, 2007

[accessed 31 May 2011]

Iran has signed a document, committing itself to the Optional Protocol of UNICEF's Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki signed the protocol on the sidelines of the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.  The Optional Protocol deals with the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action

ECPAT International, November 2001

[accessed 13 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – IRAN – There have been delays in addressing CSEC, as other fields of children rights have been given priority in Iran and also because CSEC has not been regarded as a widespread phenomenon. Therefore, no official actions have been taken that would exclusively address prevention and the protection of sexually exploited children. However, the NGO Organization for Defending Victims of Violence stresses that the issue of CSEC is now included in the work of the national Committee on the Rights of the Child. Moreover, the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence is currently shaping a plan to study the dimensions of commercial sexual exploitation nationwide.

Report by Special Rapporteur [DOC]

UN Economic and Social Council Commission on Human Rights, Fifty-ninth session, 6 January 2003$FILE/G0310090.doc

[accessed 31 May 2011]

[47] The Government is currently considering ratifying the OP/SOC.  The sale and trafficking of children is a criminal offence in Iran under the Civil Code, but there have been no known cases during 2001 and 2002.  Child prostitution and child pornography are criminal offences in Iran and children involved who are under 18 years of age and who are mature according to Islamic jurisprudence will be tried in the Juvenile Court according to the criminal procedure.  For other children, article 49 of the Islamic Criminal Code stipulates that if a child commits a crime he/she will not be held criminally liable. Such children are sent to correction and rehabilitation centers affiliated to the judiciary, which will study and consider their cases and provide appropriate assistance. According to data and information received from Judiciary Complex for Children, 1,339 cases of child prostitution were reported during 2000 and 2001.

Political Executions, Child Prostitution, and Forced Marriage at the Age of 9 : Ms Zadeh talks on the lack of human rights in Iran and the urgency to put geopolitics to one side

News & Civil Society Perspectives from the Commission on Human Rights Sixty-first session 14 March - 22 April 2005 -- Contributors: Sebastian Zielinski (CONGO), April 11, 2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 31 May 2011]

Child prostitution has risen 635 percent in recent years. Dozens of Iranian girls are brought to Karachi, Pakistan, to be sold as sex slaves every day. Reports in Tehran newspapers indicate that senior government figures have been involved in human trafficking. There are at least 300,000 runaway girls in Iran.

Iran: Fear of imminent execution/fear of flogging, Leyla M

Amnesty International, Index Number: MDE 13/048/2004, Date Published: 10 December 2004

[accessed 27 January 2016]

“Leyla M", who has a mental age of eight, is reportedly facing imminent execution for "morality-related" offences arising from her being forced into prostitution as a child.  According to a Tehran newspaper report of 28 November, she was sentenced to death by a court in the central Iranian city of Arak while she was 18.

Human Trafficking and Forced Prostitution

Katherine Toliao, IranDokht

[accessed 13 February 2011]

This abhorrent form of exploitation does not confine itself to adult women, but extends to children as well. The head of the Tehran province judiciary asserts that traffickers looking to sell women in the international market target girls between 13 and 17, although some of the girls are reported to be as young as 8 and 10. The younger girls are often forced to work as maids until slave traders deem them old enough to work out of clubs, motels, or brothels.

Iran's Trafficking of Persons, Especially Women and Children

Iran Chamber Society, 2002

[accessed 31 May 2011]

The prostitution of children also has surfaced as a matter of concern. In January 2000, Iranian authorities closed down six brothels in Tehran and arrested 35 people, including some minors.  Every day, an average of 45 Iranian girls run away from home to escape poverty, abuse, and social imprisonment.  Though some are picked up by the police and brought to welfare organizations, many falls into the hands of organized prostitution rings.

Proposal Debated For Solving Prostitution With 'Chastity Houses'

Charles Recknagel/Azam Gorgin, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, Prague, 7 August 2002

[accessed 31 May 2011]

Prostitutes wear their veils loosely over their heads in a style that passes for risqué in this strictly regulated society.  With their faces heavily made up, they stand at traffic circles where men driving by can inspect them and make a deal.  The women are often young, including many teenagers who have run away from abusive homes.  Based on official figures, there are some 300,000 women who work as prostitutes in Iran.  And according to newspapers, the number is steadily rising, despite frequent police crackdowns.  Now, some senior religious figures are suggesting the only way to solve the problem is to bring it under state control.  In recent weeks, several prominent conservative clerics have proposed that prostitutes be placed in government-run shelters for destitute women to be called "chastity houses," where male customers could briefly marry them under Islamic law.

5.1 Middle East - State of CSEC/ Attitudes toward CSEC [PDF]

November 21, 2000

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 31 May 2011]

While Israel, Jordan and Lebanon indicate a tacit willingness to address the issue, the majority of the countries in the region have not conducted research and deny the possibility that children are being sexually exploited for commercial purposes.  Open discussions of sex related issues are regarded as a social taboo thus further explaining the lack of research and acknowledgement of CSEC.  While the extent of child prostitution in the Middle East region is unknown, anecdotal evidence indicates that there is a large problem in selected areas of the region.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children - Middle East/North Africa region

This summary is based on the situation analysis written by Dr Najat M’jid for the Arab-African Forum against Commercial Sexual Exploitation, Rabat, Morocco, 24-26 October 2001

[accessed 31 May 2011]

These countries also have in common, however, a number of constraints that have hindered preparation of national plans of action. In all the countries of the region, there is cultural resistance to addressing the problem because the subject is largely taboo.  Often the issue is dealt with more generally under headings such as ‘violence’ and ‘trauma’.  This means that there has been no regional consensus on defining CSEC in law; in some countries, for example, it is looked upon as an indecent act, in others as rape, although in all 20 countries there is some section of the penal code that can be invoked against sexual abuse and exploitation.




Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – According to foreign observers, women and girls are trafficked to Pakistan, Turkey, and Europe for sexual exploitation. Boys from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan were trafficked through the country to the Gulf states. Afghan women and girls were trafficked to the country for sexual exploitation and forced marriages. Internal trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labor also occurs.

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