In a shocking statistics from Iran, almost half a million children are currently child labourers in the country. A significant number of them are from neighbouring countries who are in the Islamic Republic illegally.
According to a study carried out by the Ministry of Labour’s Strategic Information Statistics unit, out of 500,000 children, 410,000 are officially employed, and about 90,000 are unemployed but in search of work.
The study, published in June 2019, was based on data for Iran’s workforce for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017. Statistics show that in 2017, there was a significant jump of 10% in Iran’s child labourer population, which was most likely linked to the economic crisis in Iran that emerged late in the summer of 2015 and has gradually worsened since then.
However, the situation in 2015 is not comparable to the depth of the economic crisis of 2018 and 2019, when Iran experienced the most severe stagflation in the country’s history, causing irreparable damage to all parts of Iranian society — especially vulnerable communities and in particular children.
In fact the half a million figure for child labourers is misleading and inaccurate. In particular, two important points must be considered when attempting to arrive at an accurate figure.
The first is that the statistics only cover the population of children aged between 10 and 17, while in many parts of Iran children under the age of 10 are also forced to work.
The second point is that not all of these children, who are considered active in official censuses, are not necessarily employed in the traditional sense of the word. Many of them work in temporary or seasonal jobs, or in the family businesses. In many parts of the world, including Iran, it is common for children to work in these sorts of jobs, and these situations do not fall under the definition of “child labour” according to international bodies that focus on the issue.
The International Labour Organization has several fundamental criteria for identifying child labourers between the ages of five and 17. One of them regards children under the age of 11 who are in work. The second pertains to children who engage in dangerous jobs, such as mining and construction. The third is about long working hours — for children, this is more than 14 hours a week.
According to some estimates, almost half of all of the work children do in Iran should be regarded as “child labour,” which is illegal under international standards recognized by many countries around the world.
According to employment statistics released in 2017, about two-thirds of Iran’s child population work in occupations involving high risk. More than 52,000 children between the ages of 10 and 17 work in the two industries identified as hazardous: the mining and construction sectors.
An estimate for the large population of Iranian children who live in fragile and dangerous conditions can be reached by matching the above numbers with the number of children who have left school.
Census data from the Iranian Statistics Organization for the year 2016 shows that the number of illiterate people of school age — that is, between six and 19 years old — is over 430,000, the majority of whom are children who have not gone to or who have left school.
Some of these deprived children are forced to marry — adding to the number of childhood or underage marriages — while others go into the job market to provide for their families, adding to the number of child labourers.
A very large part of this large vulnerable population is comprised of street children — who are more in the public eye than other child labourers. They are exposed to all kinds of violence and social harm and they are at serious risk of being exploited in a variety of ways. (Source: So Star Iran Post/IranWire)