Main Menu
Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 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: Description: Description: Description: Description: Iran

Iran is a source, transit, and destination for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. Iranian women are trafficked internally for the purpose of forced prostitution and forced marriages. Iranian and Afghan children living in Iran are trafficked internally for the purpose of forced marriages, commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude as beggars or laborers to pay debts, provide income or support drug addiction of their families.  - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here or a full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links 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 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 Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  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.


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 6 September 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.

By law, the father has the right to force a girl into marriage at the age of nine. A man can have up to four wives and forty "temporary marriages". Prostitution is thus codified in the Iranian law. Mentioning only a small part of the atrocities carried out by the Iranian regime, it is not hard to understand that Iran currently has the highest suicide rate in the world.


*** ARCHIVES ***

U.S. human trafficking report: China, Iran, N. Korea worst offenders

Nicholas Sakelaris, United Press International UPI, 20 June 2019

[accessed 20 June 2019]

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday human trafficking is a strain on humanity that violates basic human rights. He named China, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba among the worst offenders.

Those countries all scored the lowest on the 2019 Trafficking in Person report released by the U.S. State Department.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Iran

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 10 June 2021]


The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor, but the government did not effectively enforce the law and made no significant effort to address forced labor during the year. It was unclear whether penalties were commensurate with those prescribed for other analogous crimes such as kidnapping. Conditions indicative of forced labor sometimes occurred in the construction, domestic labor, and agricultural sectors, primarily regarding adult Afghan men and boys younger than age 18. Family members and others forced children to work.


There were reportedly significant numbers of children, especially of Afghan descent, who worked as street vendors in major urban areas. According to official estimates, there were 60,000 homeless children, although many children’s rights organizations estimated up to 200,000 homeless children. The Committee on the Rights of the Child reported that street children in particular were subjected to various forms of economic exploitation, including sexual abuse and exploitation by the public and police officers. Child labor also was used in the production of carpets and bricks. Children worked as beggars, and there were reports criminals forced some children into begging rings. According to the Iranian Students News Agency, Reza Ghadimi, the managing director of the Tehran Social Services Organization, said in 2018 that, according to a survey of 400 child laborers, 90 percent were “molested.”

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 29 April 2020]


The government provides no protection to women and children forced into sex trafficking, and both Iranians and migrant workers from countries like Afghanistan are subject to forced labor and debt bondage. The IRGC has allegedly used coercive tactics to recruit thousands of Afghan migrants living in Iran to fight in Syria. Human Rights Watch has reported that children as young as 14 are among those recruited.

The fuel-price hike that triggered the November 2019 protests was the latest sign of an economic crisis driven by a combination of US-led trade sanctions and mismanagement by the regime. The crisis has caused serious hardships for ordinary Iranians, leaving them more vulnerable to exploitation.

Rising number of Iranian girls as young as 10 forced to marry

Agence France-Presse AFP,  February 5, 2016

[accessed 5 February 2016]

A growing number of “girls at the age of 10 years or younger … are subjected to child and forced marriages to much older men,” CRC said.

Compounding the problem were laws allowing sex with girls as young as nine, and a lack of criminalization for sexual abuse of even younger children, it said.

The committee also lamented a law obliging wives “to fulfill sexual needs of their husbands at all times,” which it stressed “places child brides at risk of sexual violence, including marital rape.”

Stressing the devastating effects child marriage can have on the physical and mental health of young girls, the experts called on Tehran to introduce national laws clearly banning and criminalizing the practice.

Inside Iran: The industry of child trafficking

Al Arabiya News, 15 June 2015

[accessed 17 June 2015]

Al Arabiya’s “Inside Iran” report revealed that a child in Iran can be sold for $150, and subjected to child labor even before the age of three.

The victims of child trafficking are reportedly exploited in labor, begging, and drug and organ trafficking, the report added.

It is claimed traffickers go searching for children in areas hit by poverty, or where drug addiction is rampant. They could be kidnapped from their families and never return back.

Iranian islands a torture ground for duped migrants

Mohammad Jamil Khan, Dhaka Tribune, 4 April 2015

[accessed 13 April 2015]

[accessed 31 January 2018]

When hard-working Bangladeshi migrants arrive in the UAE looking for jobs, they are steered by dreams of turning their own lives around, while they seize every opportunity before them to earn a little extra for their loved ones back home.

But that leaves them vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous opportunity seekers.

An Iran-based gang of human traffickers lure the Bangladeshi men with promises of better jobs in European countries – mostly in Turkey, Greece and Italy; but as soon as they are smuggled out of the  United Arab Emirates, the workers are held captive in islands near the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas.

Hideouts on the islands – located in the 39km stretch of the Strait of Hormuz – are used to torture the Bangladeshi expatriates, while their families back home are contacted to demand ransom. Many of the hostages are unable to survive the torture, and die there at the hands of their captors.

Human trafficking victims return from Iran

M.H. Khan, Dawn the Internet Edition, Hyderabad, March 09, 2008

[accessed 26 January 2016]

Twenty-three victims of human trafficking, including women and children, arrived at the FIA’s office here on Saturday after serving for a year as unpaid labourers on the agricultural land in Iran’s Zarabad area.  “I am now a free man and it’s my country. I did a blunder by falling prey to greed,” Hashim, a resident of Hala, said with tears in his eyes.  The villagers, Hashim, Hajan, Gul Hassan, Daim, Ahmed, Anwar, Asghar, Achar, Laung, Punhoo, Haji, Achar (adults), Dilbar, Deedar, Zakir, Sabir, Sher Bano (children) and Gul Pani, wife of Daim; Solini, Zulekha, Moomal, Amir Bano and Zamir Bano, had been kept as slaves by an Iranian landlord.

Clerical courts set free women traffickers

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, 28 December 2005

[accessed 13 February 2011]

[scroll down]

The state-run daily Iran reported that a man involved in human trafficking of young Iranian girls, each sold in Arab countries for over 50 million rials (US$4,600), received a prison term of three to five months. An appeals court, however, overturned the ruling and released the smuggler and ordered him to pay a fine of just US$275.

Most runaway girls in Iran raped within first 24 hours

Iran Focus, London, 12 July 2005

[accessed 2 September 2014]

[accessed 6 June 2017]

In April, 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.  Many runaway girls, some as young as 13, were being forced into prostitution by organized child prostitution rings. A number of officers from Iran’s notorious State Security Forces (SSF), commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and heads of a number of local government departments and institutions were among those rounded up in the raids.

The Plight of Iranian Women and Children Under Islamic Rule [DOC]

Prof. Donna M. Hughes, Congressional Breakfast Conference, June 8, 2005

[accessed 13 February 2011]

THE IDEOLOGY AND STATE OF ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM - The clerics’ version of sharia law imposes a crushing system of gender apartheid on Iranians based on the premise that women are physically, psychologically, intellectually, and morally inferior to men.  The clerics made laws on how to control, punish, torture, and kill women and girls. Misogyny and violence against women were institutionalized.

Save the Women, Save Ourselves - Terror, inside and out

Michael Ledeen, National Review NRO contributing editor, April 04, 2005

[accessed 2 September 2014]

[Book Link]

[accessed 29 April 2020]

According to Dr. Azam, she had a skull fracture, two broken fingers, missing fingernails, a crushed big toe, a smashed nose, deep scratches on her neck, and evidence of flogging on her legs and back.  "I could see this was caused by torture," Azam told Canadian journalists. He added that the nurse who examined Kazemi's genitals told him of "brutal damage."  He believes she was tortured and raped.  If he is correct, we can add Zara Kazemi to a long list of women who have been brutalized.

Child Prostitution Ring Run By Revolutionary Guards Officers Uncovered In Iran

Iran Focus, Neka, 11 April 2005

[accessed 2 September 2014]

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.

Girls In Iran Being Sold In Pakistan On Daily Basis

Iran Focus, Tehran, 02 March 2005

[accessed 2 September 2014]

[accessed 10 February 2019]

At least 54 Iranian girls and young women, between the ages of 16 and 25, are sold on the streets of Karachi in Pakistan on a daily basis, according to report outlining the latest statistics.  The report also revealed that there are at present at least 300,000 runaway girls in Iran, adding that the estimated number of women under the absolute poverty line was more than eight million.

Woman Facing Death For Prostitution ‘Not Mentally Disabled’

Irish Examiner, December 23, 2004

[accessed 2 September 2014]

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

Amnesty had said the woman’s mother forced her into prostitution when she was eight. It said the girl was raped repeatedly and gave birth to a baby when she was nine.

Slavery of Children and women in Persian gulf countries

Morteza Aminmansour, Persian Journal, Jun 20, 2004

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

The Islamic fundamentalists in Iran have for example expended tremendous amounts of time and efforts controlling, harassing, and punishing women and girls in the name of Islam. In Tehran, there are an estimated 84,000 women and girls in prostitution, many of them are on the Streets, others are in the 250 brothels that reportedly operate in the City. The trade is also international. Thousands of Iranian women and girls have been sold into sexual slavery abroad. The Sex Slave Trade is one of the most Profitable activities in Iran today. Iranian governments officials are involved in buying, selling and sexually abusing women and girls. One factor contributing to the increase in prostitution and the sex slave trade is the number of female teens who are running away from home. In Tehran alone there are an estimated 25,000 Street Children, most of them girls. Many of the girls come from impoverished Rural areas. Some addicted parents sell their Children to support their habits...A number of prostitution and slavery rings operating from Tehran that has sold girls and women to Britain, France, and Germany.

E-ZAN  Voice of Women against Fundamentalism in Iran

E-ZAN, VOLUME 6, November 15, 2004

[accessed 13 February 2011]

TO OUR READERS - The Iranian regime displays a different kind of brutality towards women. Women’s Forum Against Fundamentalism was the first organization in the United States who exposed the Iranian regime’s plan to stone a teenage girl in the city of Marvian.  In less than two months, there has been pubic hanging of a 16-year-old girl, execution order of a 33-year-old mother and stoning sentence for a 14-year-old girl. Misogyny is the pillar of fundamentalist rule in Iran. Crimes against women are justified because mullahs view women as embodiment of sin and seduction. It is for this reason the fundamentalist regime in Tehran has found sex trafficking a profitable business.

Sex Slave Jihad [PDF]

Prof. Donna M. Hughes,, January 27, 2004

[accessed 13 February 2011]

[accessed 10 February 2019]

The head of Iran’s Interpol bureau believes that the sex slave trade is one of the most profitable activities in Iran today. This criminal trade is not conducted outside the knowledge and participation of the ruling fundamentalists. Government officials themselves are involved in buying, selling, and sexually abusing women and girls.

The price of Iranian girls after entering the Persian Gulf trafficking market May 2005

SINA News Agency, 6 July 2004

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

[accessed 6 September 2011]

The Colonel adds: ?The girls who run away from home have no idea what the future holds for them. We have 200 missing girls in Tehran, as we speak and we only know of the fate of a few. There are many rings lurking for these young women and girls. They use these run-a-way girls for stealing, trafficking and for illicit drugs and sex. Most of all they use these victims for their organs.? Every once in a while bodies of unknown girls are found here and there in large cities, particularly in Tehran. Some of these bodies are identified; however most of them are buried without being identified because no one comes to claim their body.

The dealers of human organs are also trafficking girls by promising them a better life and transporting them across borders. Once taken to another country, the traffickers sell the girls? body parts for enormous amounts of money.

Iran's Sex Slaves Suffer Hideously Under Mullahs

Prof. Donna M. Hughes, Insight on the News – Insight Magazine, 28 May 2004

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

[accessed 6 September 2011]

A measure of Islamic fundamentalists' success in controlling society is the depth and totality with which they suppress the freedom and rights of women. In Iran for 25 years, the ruling mullahs have enforced humiliating and sadistic rules and punishments on women and girls, enslaving them in a gender apartheid system of segregation, forced veiling, second-class status, lashing and stoning to death.

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]

[accessed 10 February 2019]

"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.

Human trafficking from Iran to Gulf Shiekhdoms [PDF]

Shargh daily, May 26, 2004

[accessed 13 February 2011]

A group of Iranian boys and girls will be sold in an auction today in Fojeyreh, United Arab Emirates. At a round table discussion on human trafficking held yesterday (at the office of) the Young Iranian Society news agency, it was announced that the preparations for this auction were made two weeks before by hunters of Iranian women and girls in the course of an international exhibition…  The human hunters were able to choose 54 Iranian girls out of the 286 that were put on show in an Arab country's booth. They were then sent to a Persian Gulf country on May 17 to get ready for the Fojeyreh auction on May 26.

Human Trafficking and Forced Prostitution

Katherine Toliao, IranDokht

[accessed 13 February 2011]

[accessed 6 June 2017]

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.

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.

Human Rights Overview by Human Rights Watch – Defending Human Rights Worldwide

[accessed 13 February 2011]


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. It was difficult to measure the extent of the government's efforts to curb human trafficking. It appears that the government did not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but it has made significant efforts to do so. In 2004 the government conducted a study on trafficking of women, passed a law against human trafficking, and signed separate Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with Afghanistan, Turkey, IOM, and the International Labor Organization (ILO). According to Pakistani press reports in December, Iran, Pakistan, Greece, and Turkey formed a joint working group to fight human trafficking. On September 22, domestic media reported that the Tehran police chief stated eight human trafficking networks smuggling mostly Bangladeshis, Afghans, and Pakistanis had been broken up and members arrested. During 2004 border police arrested more than 250 Pakistanis smuggled into the country, some of whom likely were trafficking victims.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery - Iran",, [accessed <date>]