A woman in Iran [Illustrative].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An Iranian news outlet recently released "frightening data from a confidential report" on prostitution in Tehran, revealing troubling details about the issue in the hard-line conservative Islamic Republic.
The findings published last weekend, amid the Ramadan holiday, by Moj News Agency allegedly made waves in Iran.
"Prostitution and sex trafficking mostly take place in Tehran, with the number of women working in the profession growing in large numbers," said the report, which points a finger at the government agency charge with overseeing "morality."
The Moj-commissioned report added that the government is turning a blind eye on the issue in order to avoid dealing with the ubiquity of the phenomenon, which is not "spoken about" by the state. The report charged that Iran's interior minister has refrained from presenting the findings of the report to the country's parliament.
In the last year alone, 32 brothels were discovered in various locations around Tehran, with most women going into the profession due to extreme poverty. Moj cited a psychologist who took part in writing the report and said that many women are being sold by their husbands into prostitution in order to make ends meet.
She claimed that there were upwards of 100 young girls in Tehran who make between 2 and 20 dollars per client, and that 35 percent of prostitutes in Iran are married women who have children.
"The parliament must take the situation seriously and help us raise awareness before we get to a more dangerous situation," she warned.
"Aftahab" the aid organization which physiologist Farhanaz Salimi runs is currently said to be caring for some 600 women in need.
"We need rehabilitation centers for the victims. Today there are only five such centers scattered throughout the capital of Tehran," Salimi said.
She added that many women in Tehran are involved in so-called "pleasure marriages," which are temporary couplings recognized by Shi'ite Islam, to conceal the fact that they are engaged in prostitution. The temporary marriages are decided upon by men, without the woman's consent. The agreement is usually accompanied by a payment given by the man. The arrangement is often made with women facing trying economic or social situations in exchange for sexual favors.
The status is regarded by some as providing the grounds for institutionalized prostitution.
"When [these women] become pregnant, the babies are abandoned on the street and later used for other purposes," Salami noted.