Originally published at the Women’s Committee of Iran NCRI
Trafficking of Iranian women and girls is among the issues in which women’s fundamental rights are ignored. In human trafficking news in Iran, most victims of female trafficking have been smuggled to other countries through the three provinces of Hormozgan, Sistan and Baluchestan, and Khuzestan.
“In Sistan and Baluchestan, where forced marriages are common, women are given to men in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” remarked a lawyer, Hossein Komeili.
In referring to the three provinces and “organized trafficking,” Komeili stressed that “corruption in the bureaucracy” and cooperation between “smugglers and the police” have exacerbated the issue in Iran.
Due to the regime’s lack of transparency regarding human trafficking in Iran, especially when it comes to women and girls, no statistics are provided.
“Women are trafficked under the pretext of finding a job and so on. When they enter transit countries like the United Arab Emirates, it is not possible to go on to countries like Canada or European nations, and these women engage in prostitution” (The state-run ROKNA News Agency – April 3, 2021).
Iran’s International Ranking
The U.S. Department of State publishes an annual report on human trafficking every year. In its 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Department reiterated, “The Government of Iran does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; therefore, Iran remained on Tier 3.”
Tier 3 includes countries whose behavior violates minimum standards for combating human trafficking. The U.S. Department of State has emphasized that human and sex trafficking networks in Iran appear to have immunity.
Trafficking of Iranian Women and Girls
Victims of trafficking may initially be transferred to another country as migrants before they enter the smuggling process. However, this operation is human trafficking from the beginning.
The women’s departure from the country may be legal or illegal. After Iranian women enter Turkey, the UAE, or other regional nations, their travel arrangements may be made for developed countries. The women enter developed countries with their identities and continue their activities from there. At the beginning of the trip, all of their documents are confiscated and sold.
The trafficking of Iranian women and girls outside Iran, especially to the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, is organized. According to reports, various Iranian government institutions, including the Revolutionary Guards, are involved.
In 2008, Hassan Abbasi, an Iranian hardline strategist, gave a public speech in which he exposed the trafficking of Iranian women to the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf. Abbasi condemned all the relevant officials and state institutions – the President, the Minister of Information, the Expediency Discernment Council, the Revolutionary Guards, the Bassij, the head of the Judiciary, the commander of the State Security Force, and the mayor of Tehran – for failing to confront this issue, for not being held accountable, for not paying attention, and for not preventing the tragedy of trafficking Iranian women and girls to Arab countries.
“The situation of our Islamic system has reached the point that Shi’a girls are being auctioned off in the UAE,” he said.
Poverty, a Major Cause of Women’s Trafficking
One of the main reasons for the spread of trafficking of women and girls in Iran is poverty.
“Human trafficking is rampant when people are suffering from poverty, especially in the lower parts of the city.”
According to Hossein Komeili, “The University of Tehran has a law clinic in the Oudlajan area of Tehran. A woman came to the clinic and said, ‘My daughter has been missing for 2 weeks! Her friends said she went abroad.’ We asked, ‘What did you do in these 2 weeks?’
“I did nothing. I thought she was going abroad to earn money and send it to us,” the mother replied.
Komili concluded, “Therefore, the principal reason for human trafficking is poverty, and victims fall into traffickers’ traps thinking they are finding jobs. Laws must be changed, and the victim must not be seen as a criminal.”
A subset of human trafficking is organ trafficking. When victims, especially children, are sent to transit countries or even final destinations, the traffickers hold the victims for some time before removing and selling their organs. Blood trafficking – whereby traffickers sell the children’s blood – is also prevalent.
The Iranian regime is not taking any significant or effective action to combat human trafficking. This regime facilitates the operations of human trafficking gangs because it reaps enormous profits from sexual slavery, both at home and abroad.