Iran faces taboo topic of prostitution
December 13 2002
Tehran - When the
Islamic system was created in Iran in 1979, prostitution topped the
list of taboo subjects. But today the situation cannot be ignored as
prostitution is rapidly on the rise.
"Our main concern
is that the trend is increasing dramatically," Jamileh Kadivar,
MP and member of the women's faction in parliament said on the
website Women in Iran.
The former red-light
district in the New City in central Tehran was turned into a park by
the Islamic administration in an attempt to put an end to the
business but family problems stemming from unemployment, drug abuse
and a lack of social support gradually forced women back to
According to official
figures from the Social Welfare Organisation, more than 1,7 million
women and girls, almost six percent of the female population, ran
away from home, became homeless and many of them eventually turned
'My mother knows, of
course, where the money comes from' "If the economic management
had done its job properly, we would have never faced such a
dilemma," Kadivar said.
call-girl in Tehran says she found herself in a desperate situation.
Her father was an addict and there was constant physical abuse in
the home. "With no money, no education, no opportunity for
marriage what else shall I do for surviving?" she said.
prostitution, Taraneh managed to rent a small flat in eastern
Teheran with her mother and two younger sisters and she says she
works to provide a decent life for them. Her father is back in his
home province where her grandmother is trying to help him beat his
"My mother knows,
of course, where the money comes from but both of us try to ignore
it and always talk about an imaginary company where I work. My
sisters however believe in the fairy tale of the company," she
How can a family with
no man at its side cover the high life expenses?' Her monthly income
is exceeds 10 million rials (about R50 000), about five times that
of the average family. She charges her customers, who she insists
come from good backgrounds, between 50 000 to 120 000 rials.
"We are saving
money so that I can stop all this when I am 30, when my sisters will
have finished school and can help the family financially," she
unconfirmed statistics, there are about 30 000 to 500 000
prostitutes in Iran.
Prostitutes, pimps and
customers are arrested on a regular basis but the police and
judiciary have nowhere to accommodate the arrested prostitutes.
With up to 30 000
people HIV positive in Iran, a plan to supervise prostitution to
control the spread of sexually transmitted diseases was mooted by
the social department of the interior ministry but the plan sparked
harsh protests within the conservative clergy and was doomed to
According to the plan, the brothels were supposed to be
turned to "morality houses" and prostitution was to be
legitimised in the form of a temporary marriage which is a
traditional religious custom in Iran, under which unmarried or
divorced women can have a legitimate sexual affair with men.
said that the women faction in the parliament plans first to
distinguish between prostitutes who are just immoral and those
forced to sell their bodies owing to financial pressures. The first
category will be confronted but the second provided with support
through the social welfare organisation.
But Taraneh counters, "the efforts by some of the female
officials might even be based on good will but how can a family with
no man at its side cover the high life expenses even with
I further believe that at least in Iran there are voluntary
prostitutes and almost all of them
prefer to have a decent life and I personally pray to God
every night to get out of this mud," she added.