As countries across the globe celebrate World Children’s Day, the plight of the children in Iran is heart-breaking. Under the rule of the Iranian regime, children are extremely vulnerable due to the regime’s failure to protect or promote their rights.
Iranian children suffer greatly due to extreme poverty across the country, with many families struggling to feed their children, leaving many going hungry. Children are also subjected to abuse, trafficking, and even being sold by their parents to earn whatever money they can. Even worse, the laws of the regime heavily promote violations of children’s rights, allowing child labor, early marriages and honor killings, to name but a few.
Iran Human Rights Monitor (Iran HRM) said, “The Iranian regime is a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child [CRC], but it does not take any action to safeguard and protect the rights and lives of children in Iran, particularly the girl children.”
According to Article 6 of the CRC, all states are obliged to recognize that all children have the inherent right to life, and that no child should be deprived of their liberty unlawfully. In regards to the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child, these actions should conform with the law and only be used as a last resort, for the shortest amount of time.
The CRC also states that no child should be subjected to torture, other cruel treatment or punishment, and that capital punishment or life imprisonment sentences should not be imposed for children under the age of eighteen.
Iran HRM said, “This is not the case in Iran where children are arrested, tortured, and sentenced to death without having access to a lawyer.”
During the November 2019 uprising, at least 29 children were among those killed by the regime’s security forces. More young protesters who were injured were taken from hospitals without being treated and arrested, later being tortured to make false confessions.
In regards to education, the CRC states that primary education should be compulsory and free to all, state members should give equal opportunities to all children, encouraging regular attendance and offer financial assistance if needed.
Iran HRM said, “Education is neither compulsory nor free in Iran. Since more than 80 percent of the population live under the poverty line, too many families do not afford to send their children to school. Many children in Iran go to sub-standard schools without minimum equipment and sanitation.”
Article 32 of the CRC discusses the rights of children when it comes to economic exploitation. A child’s education is first and foremost the most important aspect, and if they do have to work, they should not be exposed to anything that would harm their health, physically, mentally and spiritually.
In Iran, the legal working age for children is 15, however the government does not supervise the enforcement of this law. Therefore, many children are forced to work for long hours, in unsafe roles for very low pay at even younger ages.
Iran HRM said, “Over 7 million Iranian children work to earn a living, many sift through garbage and are exposed to various hazards. They are forced to work to help their families earn enough to survive.”
These child laborers are sadly often exposed to sexual exploitation and abuse. According to unofficial statistics, the age of prostitution in Iran has dropped to 12, and many of these children are also victims of drug trafficking, leading to some of them developing drug addictions.
Iran HRM said, “All in all, Iran children in Iran are the most innocent victims of the clerical regime. They are the poorest, the hungriest and the most oppressed sector of Iranian society. They have no rights and their conditions, over the past four decades, amount to organized crime by the mullahs’ religious dictatorship.”