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Trafficking and Prostitution in Iran
TEHRAN, IRAN –
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS JULY 6,2000
a report Wednesday that exposes Iran's hidden social vices for the
first time, an official acknowledged that prostitution and drug
abuse were widespread among Iran's predominantly young population.
``Five tons of narcotics are consumed in Tehran every day.
Official reports suggest that there are at least 2 million
addicts. Some 100,000 addicts are in prison. Addiction to
narcotics has even reached school classes,'' Mohammad Ali Zam, a
Tehran official in charge of cultural affairs, said in a report
published in Wednesday's newspapers.
Shattering a taboo by admitting the existence of prostitution, the
report said that the average age of prostitutes in Iran had
dropped to 20 from 27 a few years ago. The report did not give an
estimate for the number prostitutes.
Zam, who read his report to city council officials Monday, said
that 90 percent of girls who run away from home fall into
prostitution, and warned that violence and theft among teen-agers
was on the rise.
For years, the hard-line clergy that has ruled Iran since the 1979
revolution has painted a rosy picture of Iranian society, never
admitting to vices such as prostitution, which officially is
punishable by death.
Prostitutes are becoming more and more visible on the streets due
to economic hardships and new social freedoms granted since the
1997 election of the moderate President Mohammad Khatami. The
Tehran municipality is dominated by Khatami's pro-reform allies.
Economic hardship is the main problem confronting most Iranians.
More than half of the 62 million Iranians are below 19, meaning
that every year hundreds of thousands want jobs that don't exist.
The daily Hamshahri quoted Zam as saying that at least 12 million
Iranians were living below the poverty line, and 20 percent of the
population controlled 80 percent of the nation's wealth _ damning
statistics for a ruling clergy that overthrew the monarchy and
came to power in a revolution that promised greater equality and a
more equitable distribution of wealth.
Islam and religious education has been forced on all Iranian
students, but Zam said there was increasing indifference to
spirituality and moral issues among the youth.