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My Tiny Hands Handle Books Better: Child Labour In Ahwaz

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      ‘Sir, please buy these flowers from me. They are fresh and beautiful. Please buy them, they would make a wonderful gift. They are not so expensive.’ These words may sound familiar as they are often used by working children in Ahwaz to persuade people to buy their goods. These children can be seen chasing after vehicles on the streets, unaware of the dangers they face.

 

Mahatma Gandhi once wisely stated, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed” (Sachs, 2011). This quote perfectly captures the harsh reality in the affluent region of Ahwaz, which possesses more than enough resources to fulfil the needs of millions of children but falls short when it comes to meeting the greed and desires of the Iranian authorities. To put it simply, the widespread issue of child labour in the Ahwaz region of south and southwest Iran is one of the most distressing phenomena resulting from the discrimination and state-driven marginalisation of the entire Ahwazi Arab people. Therefore, real action should be taken to eradicate this problem and restore the childhoods of impoverished children in Ahwaz.

 

Introduction

 

 

Children are an extraordinary blessing to any nation and are the greatest gift to humanity. When provided with a nurturing environment that allows for their full and healthy development, they have immense potential to bring about social reform and lay the groundwork for broader societal progress. Unfortunately, the scandalous resurgence of child labour threatens to undermine the social fabric of numerous societies.

 

According to the International Labour Organisation, child labour is defined as “work that deprives children of their childhood, potential, and dignity and is harmful to their physical and mental development. It also interferes with their access to education” (ILO, n.d.). It is deeply concerning that this global plague has been on the rise for the past two decades. A joint report by UNICEF and the International Labour Organisation in 2020 revealed that nearly 160 million children worldwide are caught in the clutches of child labour (United Nations, 2021).

 

As a poignant example of this issue, the region of Ahwaz represents a glaring manifestation of children’s rights being violated and neglected by the Iranian government. In this affluent area, numerous children ranging from the ages of 5 to 17 are forced into hazardous occupations, further exacerbating the severity of this grave situation.

 

 

Thus, the guiding question of this paper that constantly engages the minds of many Ahwazi activists is “How can child labour be eliminated in Ahwaz?”. According to previous research in this field, the way to eradicate this social evil is through reducing poverty, enhancing access to education, improving laws and regulations, and supporting NGOs. Hence, the main objective of this study is to illuminate mechanisms that help raise awareness and reduce and mitigate the harm of child labour in Ahwaz. Additionally, it aims to address the fundamental causes of this tragedy, as well as its negative consequences on the whole of society. The method applied in this study is qualitative as it is more effective in collecting detailed data and providing deeper insights into the global phenomenon of child labour. It is worth mentioning that the research stage of this paper was challenging due to the need for more reliable and precise statistics, as the Iranian government deliberately avoids reporting and documenting any accurate information that exposes its violation of human rights. As a result, the information presented in this paper was mainly extracted from news agencies, human rights organisations, and, most importantly, reliable research and articles by the Dialogue Institute for Research and Studies.

 

Child Labour In Ahwaz (Poverty, Hunger and Deprivation)

 

 

In Ahwaz, society is too familiar with images of young labourers, spotted in every nook and corner of this oil and gas-rich region that is home to more than 8 million Arab Ahwazis (Alboshoka and Hamid, 2023). It is important to mention that the Ahwaz region contains more than 90% of the oil and gas reserves claimed by the Iranian regime. Nevertheless, indigenous Ahwazi Arab peoples of this region are deprived of their most fundamental human, civil, cultural as well as political rights. Hence, the exceptionally high rates of child labour in this region are a reflection of marginalisation, systematic racism and discrimination that the Iranian regimes have practised for decades. In simple words, there are a high number of Ahwazi children and teenagers who are engaged in child labour due to extreme poverty, hunger and deprivation. They have no choice but to work with their tiny hands and endure the heavy burdens of life on their small shoulders. 

 

 

The Ahwazi Welfare Organisation noted that Ahwaz city alone is home to more than 50% of Ahwazi child labourers. The organisation reported that boys account for 90% of child workers, with 10% of this group identified as girls. Mohammad Reza Abbasi, the Deputy of Social Affairs of the Welfare Department, also revealed that the majority of child labourers come from impoverished and marginalised areas. It must be noted that the statistics presented by the government are not trustworthy and reliable, as the Iranian regime conceals the actual statistics. Fortunately, Ahwazi rights groups recently revealed partial findings about the number of child labourers in urban areas. According to their research, major cities plagued by child labour are as follows: Abadan, Muhammarah, Ma’shour, Falahiyeh, Susa, Khafajiyeh, Howeyzeh and Ahwaz City (The regional centre of Ahwaz region). The numbers of child labourers in the mentioned cities are listed below. 

 

  • Abadan: 938
  • Ma’shour: 520
  • Muhammarah: 407
  • Falahiyeh: 116
  • Ahwaz (Capital City): 2400
  • Khafajiyeh: 317
  • Hamidiyeh: 126
  • Susa: 340
  • Howeyzeh and its rural areas: 438

 

It is worth noting that these rights groups have faced many challenges during their documentation process because of security issues and lack of resources. Since there is a high possibility of getting arrested or persecuted by the Iranian regime, they need to be heedful of this during their documentation work. However, taking into account these factors, based on their research, it was found that child labour is rampant, mainly in cities where there are immense resources such as oil, gas and petrochemical plants. For instance, the city of Ma’shour is famous for its petrochemical companies, while Abadan City owns one of the biggest petrochemical refineries in the Middle East. Furthermore, Falahiyeh is well-known for its sugarcane and sugar-refining companies, and Howeyzeh is home to significant oil fields and oil reserves. Moreover, Susa is renowned for being home to several sugarcane companies in the region. Even though there are many job opportunities available in all of these areas, local Ahwazi people have been deprived of accessing even the menial jobs in these companies (Hamid, 2023). 

 

These sugarcane units, which confiscated large-scale lands belonging to Ahwazi Arabs in rural areas without adequate compensation, have resulted in the displacement of hundreds of Ahwazi rural communities, leaving them landless and without any employment opportunities. The oil and gas sector is primarily reserved for Persian immigrants, further limiting job prospects for the local Ahwazi population.

 

 

The only benefit that the local Ahwazi people receive from these sugarcane companies is the pollution of the air. These companies commonly burn sugarcane leaves, creating suffocating smoke that covers the sky. Additionally, the sugarcane companies discharge saline and toxic wastewater from their refinery operations into nearby rivers or onto the local Ahwazi people’s lands, leading to ongoing land contamination and rendering them unsuitable for farming. It becomes increasingly difficult to recover these lands for agricultural purposes. When local Ahwazi people protest against these actions, they are met with arrests and imprisonment, stifling their voices and denying them the right to peacefully advocate for their rights.

 

 

The Vicious Cycle of Poverty 

 

 

In Ahwaz, extreme poverty has a domino effect and has caused deprivation to pass from one generation to another. It also has led to the emergence of social evils such as child labour in society. Some of the other social problems created by grinding poverty include societal disintegration, suicide, increased diseases, negative feelings, depression, anxiety, drug addiction, high illiteracy, malnutrition, and violence (Mohammed, 2023). Ahwaz is ranked the third poorest region in Iran, after Baluchistan and Kerman.

 

 

 A high proportion of the population of local Ahwazis reside in overcrowded slums and ghettos, where they have no access to the most basic facilities. For example, the Sadat neighbourhood is one of the many slums that has grown on the outskirts of Ahwaz’s capital city. According to recent reports, residents in the Sadat neighbourhood live in miserable conditions due to poor infrastructure and a lack of drainage, sanitation, and even clean drinking water. They face many challenges due to a lack of education and healthcare facilities. Many children in these areas are unable to go to school and feel depressed as they fall further and further behind their peers educationally. They have no access to health facilities, even though high numbers of people in these areas suffer from serious health problems due to their miserable living conditions (Hamid, 2023).

 

The governor of Ahwaz, Sadeq Khalilian, during a meeting he had with the head of the country’s Red Crescent, confirmed that 800,000 marginalised people live in the outskirts of Ahwazi cities, and 400,000 of this population live in suburbs of the capital city, Ahwaz. He admitted that Ahwaz occupies a special place in the country because of its capacities and natural resources, making it the backbone of Iran’s economy. However, the region is highly impoverished due to the unfair distribution of wealth, facilities and opportunities (IRNA, 2021). 

 

 

Children living in these unsafe areas are particularly vulnerable and have high rates of death due to their unspeakable living conditions. The horrendous deaths of little children due to poor sewage networks reflect the miserable condition of these underdeveloped slums and ghettos.

 

The death of Meysam Shawardi, a 7-year-old boy who died after he fell into an uncovered sewerage system, exposed this aspect of the plight of Ahwazi Arab people. However, he was neither the first nor last Ahwazi child who died tragically due to the government’s neglect and indifference. Such horrendous deaths are prevalent in Ahwazi Arab areas because of sewage networks and drainage that have not been updated for more than forty years.

 

In 2022, the Ahwazi screenwriter, director and filmmaker Rahman Borhani produced a short film called ‘Fall’ in response to the horrendous deaths of young Ahwazi children in deprived areas. During an exclusive interview with the Dialogue Institute for Research and Studies, Borhani stated, “I must be the voice of my people. I believe as an Ahwazi filmmaker, I must be like a mirror reflecting the suffering of Ahwazi people. As a result, I produced this short film to explain the tragic deaths of many innocent Ahwazis, due to undeveloped sewage channels and open pits.”

 

He added, “I decided to produce this film in one of the most deprived Ahwazi areas, as the majority of the victims are from such districts”. He also talked about the government’s neglect and indifference concerning areas mainly inhabited by local Arab Ahwazis. Borhani added, “The discrimination practised by the regime against local people has systematically led to the emergence of two completely different areas in Ahwaz. The first area, is highly developed and well-designed, while the second area is underdeveloped and people there have no access to even basic human necessities. The first area is inhabited by non-Ahwazi citizens, such as government authorities, in addition to non-Arab migrants who came from other parts of Iran. There are a lot of facilities available for non-Arab residents in this area, as they are supported and empowered by the government. They enjoy living in safe places and having access to many facilities, including high-quality schools and hospitals. In contrast, the second area is inhabited by indigenous Arab Ahwazis, who have been marginalised and forced to live in slums located on the outskirts of their homeland. Consequently, they have not been allowed to access even the most basic human needs” (Rahim, 2023).  

 

 

The Heart-Wrenching Stories of Child Labour In Ahwaz

 

Notably, the exploitation of children due to poverty through different forms of work exists all over Iran. However, Ahwazi children’s suffering is double that in other areas due to racial discrimination. Many Ahwazi children are forced to search for plastics in landfills to make a living by supplying recycling factories. Many children sell water because of the water shortage and walk considerable distances with heavy weights to make a little money. Some sell flowers and gums to passersby in the streets, while others clean shoes or wash car windshields. Words simply cannot describe the pain and suffering of these children whose childhood has been stolen and whose life is nothing but misery.

 

The real heart-rending stories of the Ahwazi child labourers, selected from an informative and well-written article entitled ‘How Iran’s regime steals Ahwazi Childhood’, co-authored by Ahwazi well-known human rights advocates Rahim Hamid and Yasser Assadi in 2020, reflect the miserable life of many Ahwazi child labourers. The stories included were based on the article’s writers’ conversation with two Ahwazi human rights activists, who used the names “Ahmed” and “Adel” as pseudonyms. The local activists could document reliable information by conducting face-to-face interviews with child labourers inside Ahwaz.

 

During Ahmed’s visit to one of the cemeteries called Beheshtabad, the activist met the twin girls Leila and Maryam’, whose stories caused Ahmed’s eyes to tear up. He witnessed the young, impoverished girls cleaning mourners’ graves for only 1 U.S. cent, which is just 1000 rials. The girls approached Ahmed since they thought he was a mourner. One of the girls started consoling Ahmed by saying, “Do not cry; we will all die”. Then she pointed her hands to the sky and continued, “We all go there, to Paradise. Why be upset?”. The girls told Ahmed that they are able to clean a maximum of twelve graves per day. Young boys who work in the same graveyard are faster and, thus, able to make more money. Ahmed said that the girls’ little hands were cut and filthy due to the work.

 

The girls talked to him about the tragic death of their father, who died in a construction accident and informed him about their lonely mother, who makes a living by cleaning carpets. However, the money she earns is inadequate due to the water shortage in Ahwaz. They also told Ahmed that stray dogs often attack them when they leave the cemetery at night. Adel, the other Ahwazi human rights activist, shared the story of the 13-year-old boy named ‘Jasim’ who sells balloons in the streets of Ahwaz. The little child informed Adel, “Once I sell all of my balloons, I can go home. But, Thursday and Friday, I get home very late because I go to many graveyards and wash dirty graves”.

 

Jasim told the activist how he usually gets abused by predators when he works late in the graveyard. Adel also shared the story of ‘Raghad’ who sells flowers on busy streets. She is only 11 years old and, like other young workers, did not have the chance to attend school. Raghad works for long hours to support her family since her father is disabled and unable to work. The little boy Khalid, 11 years old, is another heartbreaking story of child labour told by Adel. The little boy works long hours, searching for plastics and dry bread in the garbage. He sells whatever he finds in the trash to support his low-income family. Khalid told Adel that he used to be an outstanding student at school, but he had to leave school after his father lost his job. (Hamid and Assadi, 2020).

 

Samer, 12 years old, is another child worker who is forced to work in unsafe streets. He navigates the busy roads of Ahwaz City to clean car windshields for less than 5 cents. Rahim Hamid, the Ahwazi human rights advocate and researcher, conveyed the heart-rending story of this young boy in his influential article ‘Ahwaz’s Street Children: Old Before Their Time’. The young boy used to live peacefully with his family in a village close to the city. However, he was forced to leave the family’s farm along with his parents and siblings due to the man-made drought and water scarcity. Samer had no choice but to leave school and work in the capital city. Today, Samer and his brother Ahmed are the only breadwinners of their low-income family. They need to support their mother as well as their three brothers, in addition to their father, who suffers from vein thrombosis (Hamid, 2023). Mohammad Sawari, another Ahwazi rights activist, filmed a documentary about two child labourers who search for bottles and canes through garbage. The 14-year-old child told the activist, “Because we are Arabs, the government and its companies do not offer us employment”.

 

The other child added, “I collect bottles through garbage because my father is ill, and no one supports me and my family”. The first child worker added, “In Ahwaz, even highly educated young Arabs are denied employment because of the government”. The activists asked them about the major factor driving them to work in such miserable conditions. The first child responded, “There is no opportunity or any value for education. Even highly educated Ahwazi Arabs, are deprived of accessing employment. My family is living in poverty, and my father is ill. Therefore, I need to work from morning till night to support my family”.

 

The activist asked, “Who is responsible for your poverty and your current condition?”. “In simple words, the government is responsible for our poverty, the first child replied. Job opportunities are only accessible for Persian immigrants, while Ahwazi people go through discrimination, poverty and deprivation because of their Arab ethnicity. Ahwaz belongs to us, as it is our homeland. In cities like Isfahan, Tehran and Shiraz, people enjoy a better quality of life. Ahwaz region is neglected,” the first child replied (Hamid, 2023). Unfortunately, the stories of endless exploitation of child labour in Ahwaz have received little attention in the global media. Hence, it is necessary to shed light on child labour in Ahwaz and be the voice for the voiceless.  

 

Fundamental Causes of Child Labour In Ahwaz

 

 

Tracing a problem to its origin is the most crucial step towards understanding it since it helps to identify appropriate solutions for mitigating complex issues such as child labour. Previous researchers and practitioners agreed on specific factors that lead to child labour. For instance, the United Nations Children’s Fund claims that child labour results from several major causes, such as poverty, poor quality of education, and lack of regulation enforcement (UNICEF, n.d.).

 

 The International Labour Organisation refers to poverty as the greatest single cause that drives children towards working (ILO, n.d.). It is indisputable that the above-mentioned factors, especially poverty, are the major causes behind rising child labour in any society. However, they themselves are the consequences of other fundamental factors that promote inequality and unfairness in any society. In other words, the highest-level cause of any issue, the ‘Root Cause’, sets the entire cause-and-effect chain causing the problem in motion. For example, in Ahwaz, the root cause behind this social crime is undoubtedly the ‘Iranian Regime’, which attempts to subjugate, marginalise, assimilate, disempower and destroy the entire Arab Ahwazi nation in their homeland.   

 

  • Iranian Regimes (Root Cause)

 

 The exclusionary racial policies, laws, practices, and systems perpetuated by both the Pahlavi regimes in the past and the current Islamic Republic have had a profound impact on the endemic child labour prevalent in Ahwaz. These policies have led to the marginalisation and mistreatment of the Ahwazi Arab people, resulting in heightened social and economic disparities and hindering the prospects of a dignified life within their homeland. Therefore, it is imperative to scrutinise how the Iranian regimes have actively contributed to the worsening of child labour in Ahwaz.

To provide a comprehensive answer to this question, it is crucial to go through the political, economic and social strategies the Iranian regimes have implemented during the past decades. Notably, the successive regimes have systematically applied various weapons as tools to conduct their project of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’, including Land Confiscation, Forced Displacement, Water-Diversion, Discriminatory Education and Employment practices. Above all, they have used poverty as a weapon to disempower the Ahwazi people in all spheres of life and to ensure that they never rise above this systematic poverty. Therefore, the extreme poverty witnessed today in the region is undoubtedly a man-made phenomenon created by the Iranian regimes, and the scourge of child labour is solely a social evil created by the successive Iranian regimes. 

 

  • The political Strategies 

 

The Iranian regimes have applied various strategies to remove the Arab people from Ahwaz and to change the demographic structure of the region. First of all, confiscation of residential and agricultural lands owned by Ahwazi farmers has been one of the main approaches used by the government to destroy Arab Ahwazi communities. Secondly, establishing settlement projects on lands confiscated from Ahwazis has enabled both regimes to alter the demographic composition of Ahwaz. As a case in point, the ‘Sugar Cane Project’, which was established during the Pahlavi dynasty, is one of the many colonial projects that have been developed on the Ahwazi lands. As a result, many Ahwazis were forcibly displaced, while many Persian settlers settled in the region as employees in those projects. It is worth noting that the regime provided the settlers with the best opportunities, living conditions and economic status while simultaneously depriving the Ahwazi people of their most fundamental rights.

 

Shortly after the fall of the Pahlavi Monarchy in 1979, the operation of the Sugar Cane Project was moved forward by Iran’s Islamic regime. This regime has proved to be even more dictatorial, oppressive and suppressive than its predecessor. The clerical dictators immediately implemented the same strategy of land confiscation. They developed several new settlement projects to attract new Persian settlers by offering them superior jobs, high-quality and well-developed residential areas, modern amenities, modernised infrastructure, medical services, etc. (Hashemi, 2022). Accordingly, a new wave of displacement swept Ahwaz immediately after the new regime came to power, and thus, a new chapter of suffering unfolded. It is worth noting that during the past years, the government has confiscated more lands belonging to Ahwazi farmers in the Jufair region, located in the southwest of the Ahwaz region and about 50 km west of Ahwaz city. The government is attempting to build new projects for families of Iranian authorities there (Kurdi, 2023). 

 

 

As a result, in 2015, farmers of Jufair gathered in front of the water supply facilities and pump house of the ‘Isargaran Cooperative Company’. They protested against the transfer of their agricultural lands to non-native cooperative companies. They held placards such as “We, farmers of Jufair are against the transfer of our agricultural lands to non-native companies”. The head of Howeyzeh and Azadegan Farmers Trade Union, Hussein Marmazi, stated: “The protest of farmers is due to the transfer of their lands to cooperative companies that belong to martyrs and warriors who are considered non-native”. He added that none of the farmers had a share of these transfers and that farmers of about 15 villages were affected. Marmazi stated: “These lands are 44,000 hectares in size, and are divided among non-native cooperative companies. And, not even one hectare of these lands have been given to the local people”.

 

 

Marmazi confirmed that these lands belonged to farmers and their ancestors, who had always used their lands for cultivation. Some of them have official documents issued in 1940. Fifteen years ago, when the cooperative companies came to appropriate their land, residents thought the government was intervening to level up their lands and help the farmers, only to find that instead, their lands were seized (IRNA, 2015). These lands were taken from the farmers by force, and they were unable to do anything about the government’s decision.

 

 

Thirdly, the establishment of a large-scale ‘Water Diversion Project’ by the current regime is another infrastructural and political strategy applied to displace more indigenous Ahwazi people. The development of various upstream dams and networks of pipelines on the Karun River has diverted the course of river water to Persian regions such as Isfahan and Yazd. It has devastatingly impacted the river and resulted in ecocide. This catastrophic damage resulted in severe water scarcity and has led to deterioration in the living conditions of Ahwazis due to a lack of clean drinking water. Unfortunately, the desertification of agricultural lands, which is fundamentally one of the regime’s deliberate strategies of ethnic cleansing, has adversely impacted the agrarian economy in the region (Hamid, n.d.).

 

According to reports of Ahwazi environmentalists, in 2022, almost 1.2 million inhabitants will still rely on agriculture to secure their livelihood (DIRS, 2022). The local environmental activist Nasser Abiyat reported that the drought of the Hor Al Azim wetland alone has led to the unemployment of 20,000 Ahwazi people (Young Journalist Club, 2021).

 

The other factor that has caused the deterioration of the living conditions for the Ahwazi people is the air pollution created, among other causes, by desertification, which is a consequence of the lack of water. As a result, residents have been suffering from serious health issues. Vice President of Medical Sciences at Jundishapour University of Ahwaz, Meitham Moeazi, reported that during nine months in 2023, 132,000 patients in Ahwaz were hospitalised due to non-infectious respiratory and chronic diseases caused by air pollution. He stated that based on the statistics of non-infectious respiratory and chronic diseases, it was revealed that the number of cases in December of this year (2023) has increased to 17,942 from 14,853 during the same month of the last year. Moeazi added that “Ischemic heart disease, stroke, chronic pulmonary obstruction, lung cancer, exacerbation of asthma attacks, chronic bronchitis, dementia, Alzheimer’s and allergic rhinitis are among the most common diseases caused by air pollution” (IRNA, 2023). 

 

 

Fourthly, the regimes have followed discriminatory employment practices that prevent local people from achieving productive employment and decent work that would offer them freedom, equity, security and human dignity. As mentioned earlier, the available employment opportunities and facilities are mainly granted to settlers; thus, even highly educated and qualified Ahwazi applicants are hired for menial jobs (DIRS, 2023). Many young local Ahwazis continuously protest in response to such discriminatory employment practices. For instance, young Ahwazis in Abadan City often gather in front of the governor’s building to complain about the lack of job opportunities. They often criticise the employment of non-native residents despite the high unemployment rate among the native Ahwazi people.

 

Mohammed Shajarat stated, “In Abadan city, even highly educated individuals are unable to access job opportunities” (IRNA, 2017). Notably, the unemployment rate in the region is 15.6% (Fars News, 2022). This is much higher than the national unemployment rate, which in 2022 was 10.96% (Macrotrends, n.d.). The Statistical Center of Iran, during Fall 2023, announced that the national unemployment rate has decreased to 7.6% (Arya News Agency, 2024). The government also reported a new unemployment rate in relation to the Ahwaz region, which is 11.7%. However, It is argued that Ahwazi Arab citizens face discrimination with regard to unemployment benefits as well as many other basic facilities. During labour protests in 2021, Issa Sawari, an Ahwaz worker, stated, “I am 33 years old, married and have three children. I have been unemployed for a very long time, and I have no access to insurance and unemployment benefits” (Mehr News Agency, 2021). 

 

This reflects the government’s manipulation of statistics aimed at hiding its oppression and marginalisation of the Arab Ahwazis. The International Crisis Group (2023) also confirmed that Ahwaz’s unemployment rate is much higher than the official rate. Economic experts in Iran also admitted that the unemployment rates revealed by the government are unreliable and do not reflect the country’s economic condition (Iran’s Student News Agencies, n.d). It is worth noting that the unemployment rate in Iran has been calculated daily so that if a person works only two days a week, they are not counted among the unemployed.

 

In response to repeated criticism by economic experts, officials stated that the method followed for counting the unemployment rate in Iran is approved by the ILO. However, experts responded that according to the ILO, the unemployment rate can only be calculated on a weekly basis when the income earned by an individual is sufficient for the family. As a result, government statistics are considered invalid and do not show Iran’s economic condition (Iran’s Student News Agencies, n.d.). 

 

Many impoverished Ahwazi people, most of whom work in Abdul Hamid Market, have turned to street vending to secure their livelihood, as revealed by an Ahwazi activist to Iran Wire. Furthermore, many educated and highly qualified young Ahwazis have also turned to street vending due to high unemployment.

 

The Ahwazi activists interviewed some street vendors, especially women who complained about their difficulties and the government’s aggressive behaviour toward street vendors. In one of the interviews, an Ahwazi Arab woman told Iran Wire, “My husband is ill, my children are unemployed. I have no choice except to work as a street vendor to support my family. I am not a member of any Relief or Welfare Committee. This is our city, and this is the Arab market”. Soheila, another female street vendor, informed Iran Wire that the majority of impoverished residents who live in slums are working in Abdul-Hamid Market as street vendors. She added “the high unemployment rate and lack of jobs, have caused the number of street vendors to exceed the capacity of this market. Notably, many street vendors are women and are the breadwinners of their families. Their spouses have either passed away or are disabled, and some of them are in prison (Dehkardi, 2023)

 

   

  • Failure To Enforce Regulations 

 

Despite the provisions of labour law that prohibit the employment of children in Iran, unfortunately, child labour has not only become widespread but also widely normalised throughout Iran. Insufficient rules and regulations, as well as lack of enforcement, are considered fundamental causal factors behind the alarming rise of child labour. According to Article 79 of the Labour Code in Iran, employment of children below 15 is regarded as a crime; however, based on Article 80 of the same Code, Labourers between fifteen to eighteen are referred to as “Juvenile Workers” and are allowed to work (Iran News Wire, n.d.). One of the biggest challenges in Ahwaz is that the rules are insufficient and not enforced by the Iranian government.

 

Despite more than 40 years of false promises by the Iranian Islamic regime, children’s rights have continuously been violated and neglected. As a result, children have been engaged in a variety of hazardous jobs, such as working as street sellers in workshops, agricultural jobs, animal husbandry, and even underground workshops to support themselves and their families. The head of the Iranian Social Workers Association, Seyed Hasan Mousavi Chelak, emphasised that despite the employment laws that exist in relation to child labour, authorities are not committed to fulfilling the rights of children and do not take responsibility for carrying out the missions defined in the law (Razavi News Agency, 2023). 

 

  • Lack of Access to Education 

 

 

The right to education is considered a fundamental social, cultural and legal right that plays a crucial role in mitigating poverty and child labour since it contributes to promoting democracy, peace, tolerance, development and economic growth. Accordingly, through its special Convention on Children’s Rights (Article 28), the U.N. emphasises the importance of a child’s right to education (UNICEF, n.d.). In Ahwaz, accessing education and enjoying basic facilities needed for children to study and develop new skills and abilities are nearly impossible for local Ahwazi Arab people. According to the article “Ahwazi Children Face Discrimination in Iran’s Education System”, the Ahwaz region is the least developed region in Iran with respect to education. Based on the official statistics revealed by the government, Ahwaz is ranked 31st among the 31 provinces. 

 

 

In 2017, the Director General of Social Affairs in the region of Ahwaz, Karimi Kia, admitted that 8% of Ahwazi people are considered completely illiterate, while another 8% of the population are functionally illiterate. These statistics only relate to people who are 10 to 49 years old. Therefore, the region’s illiteracy rate is much higher, as illiterate individuals aged 49 and above are not included in the government’s statistics.

 

 Gholamreza Shariati, the former governor of the Ahwaz region, during a meeting of the Provincial Education Council on 22 October 2017, reported that 500,000 individuals in Ahwaz region are considered illiterate, and 238,000 of this group are from 10 to 49 years old, which means over half of illiterate people in Ahwaz are not included in the 8% completely illiterate plus 8% functionally illiterate figures quoted above. The Deputy of Illiteracy of the Ahwaz General Directorate of Education, in 2017, stated that 65% of illiterate individuals are women, with men accounting for the remaining 35%. Ahwazi human rights groups believe that actual rates of illiteracy in the region are much higher than the statistics presented by the government. In an interview the Dialogue Institute for Research and Studies had with Ahmed Khaledi, a retired Ahwazi teacher, it was indicated that the real illiteracy rate in the region may be 20% above the reported rates. (Hamid, 2023). 

 

The Iranian government has failed to fulfil the most basic human right of access to education that is guaranteed by its constitution and has deliberately kept the rural and urban areas in the region impoverished and underdeveloped.

 

Many Ahwazi children have given up education before even completing their elementary school due to poor infrastructure, lack of schools and unsafe means of transportation in impoverished and underdeveloped areas. For instance, children in Susa and Fallahiyeh areas face tremendous difficulties due to a lack of transportation and are forced to walk miles every day to reach their school.

 

It is heartbreaking to know that many Ahwazi children have been observed walking to school without shoes to avoid wearing them too often. Many of them have been witnessed walking to school during rainy seasons with their books wrapped in plastic bags.

Although the quality of education all over Iran is unsatisfactory, the educational quality in Ahwaz is considered one of the worst. An analysis of student’s performance from 2019 to 2023 found that student grades throughout the country have decreased during the past four years. The decline in students’ performance, as one of the indicators of educational quality, certainly reflects Iran’s poor quality of education (Parsine, 2023).

 

Adding insult to injury, Ahwazi students also suffer from racist policies practised due to their Arab ethnic background. Thus, many Ahwazi children who attend school experience physical and psychological racial abuse by their non-Arab teachers. They also face many challenges due to their families’ economic difficulties and thus drop out of school to support their families by earning additional income. Consequently, the illiteracy rate in Ahwaz is exceptionally high compared with other regions across the country, such as Tehran, Isfahan and Yazd. According to a report published by ECOIRAN (Statistics and Information Analysis Database), entitled “Empty Pockets Don’t Recognise Literacy’, it was indicated that there is a negative correlation between the level of income and the level of literacy throughout Iran”.

 

 It was stated that “the more we go to provinces where the income is higher, the illiteracy rate is lower” (BBC Persian, 2023). Furthermore, based on the statistics, low-income regions, including Ahwaz, Sistan and Baluchistan, Kurdistan, Kerman, and Lorestan, are officially ranked among the regions with the highest illiteracy rates. In contrast, the illiteracy rates in other areas, such as Tehran, Isfahan, Semnan, Yazd, and Mazandaran, are declared to be much lower (Iran Student Correspondents Association, 2017). 

 

This substantial difference in illiteracy levels across the country exposes the government’s discrimination regarding education. In areas where mainly non-Persians live, the illiteracy rate is much higher. Unfortunately, many Ahwazi children have discontinued their education due to the government’s discriminatory policies. For example, in 2018 alone, more than 12,000 Ahwazi students dropped out of primary school. Consequently, generations of Ahwazi children have been disempowered in their homeland (DIRS, 2023), according to Mehrdad Mousavi, the Director-General of Social and Cultural Affairs in Ahwaz. Ahwazis are deprived of an opportunity to study in their mother tongue and are semi-literate in their own language, Arabic.

 

During a meeting at U.N. Headquarters in Geneva in 2013, Ahwazi Arab rights campaigner Amir Saedi emphasised that Iran has violated the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child with respect to the right to education in its treatment of the Arab Ahwazis. He added, “Most Arab villages have no schools. While the illiteracy rate in Iran is about 10%-18%, it is over 50% among Arab men in Ahwaz and even higher for Ahwazi women. In non-industrial rural areas such as Falahiyeh, illiteracy among women is close to 100%”.

Saedi highlighted the school dropout rates in Ahwaz, adding, “Indigenous Ahwazi students drop out of schools at a rate of 30% at the elementary level, 50% at secondary and 70% at high school” (UNPO, 2013). In 2021, Mehrdad Mousavi, the Director-General of Social and Cultural Affairs in Ahwaz, confirmed that 30,000 young students discontinued education due to their inadequate skills and abilities in the Persian language. In 2015, the former governor, Abdul-Rahman Moqtadaei, reported that more than 90,000 Ahwazi students had discontinued education only during one school year, including children who never attended school (Hamid,2023). Many Ahwazi children, as a consequence of this discriminatory education system, have moved to workplaces and have endured heavy burdens on their small shoulders. 

 

  • Lack of social welfare services  

 

Today, one of the biggest challenges Ahwazi society is going through regarding the plight of child labour is the lack of an effective crisis management process that helps to mitigate the problems associated with poverty and exclusion. Simply put, social support networks in any society play an essential role in overcoming crises and supporting vulnerable families. In Iran, as a result of corruption, the majority of social institutions are ineffective and unresponsive to citizens’ needs, and even those that attempt to help are not strong enough to break the cycle of poverty. According to sources, before the Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979, an Iranian Welfare Organisation was established to provide social support throughout the country. However, after the revolution, the governance of this Foundation was moved to the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation, which proved to be unsupportive and unresponsive to the social needs of low-income families (Ranjipour, 2020). 

 

 

Notably, the above-mentioned Foundation is considered a revolutionary institution, and it was intended to provide aid to impoverished families, eliminate poverty, improve the educational system and solve a variety of social issues.

 

Forty years after its initiation, the Foundation has expanded and became financially strong. However, it has been unresponsive and unsupportive to citizens’ needs. It is worth mentioning that information about the Foundation’s actual funding and performance has yet to be publicly disclosed (Ranjipiur, 2020). Thus, non-profit organisations face many obstacles due to the lack of support and the government’s corruption and are unable to provide enough support to impoverished families. For instance, the Toloe Mehr Afrinan Foundation can only offer 8 dollars every month and some essential educational services, which is not enough to overcome the issues faced by Ahwazi children and their families (Hamid and Assadi, 2020). Therefore, the lack of social and financial support from NGOs has forced many vulnerable families to allow their children to work against their wishes. 

 

Cost and consequences of child labour  

 

 

Child labour is a disease that destroys childhood joy, and its all-encompassing effects hold the frozen energy of generations of Ahwazis. Hence, it is unethical and immoral to disregard this affliction. Cases like Leila, Maryam, Raghad, Khalid and Jasim should be enough to address this issue seriously. This section sheds light on the negative consequences of child labour that affect not only the children engaged in work but their families, society and the entire globe.  

 

Firstly, child labourers suffer from various physical and psychological issues because employment jeopardises their health. Child labour results in many health problems due to physical, sexual as well as emotional abuse. Many children at work go through corporal punishment, beating, bullying, harassment, blame, rejection, humiliation, injuries, wounds, fractures, depression, and even death. Several children also face slavery and sexual and economic exploitation and are deprived of accessing their basic needs such as food, security, shelter, clothing, etc. (Khether, 2022). The story of the little Ahwazi children who wash graves in cemeteries is a case in point. They feel scared and suffer from nightmare disorder because of washing graves and working till late at night (Hamid and Assadi, 2020).

 

 

Secondly, child employment also profoundly impacts children’s social development since they spend most of their time working instead of playing with their friends and having fun with their families. As a result, they find difficulty building positive relationships, having strong personalities, and enjoying high self-confidence (International Labor Rights Forum, 2011). They are also at risk of acquiring harmful habits and problematic social behaviour such as drug addiction, aggressive behaviour and crime (Khether, 2022).

 

Based on a study conducted in Ahwaz Correction Centre in 2008, it was found that child labour is associated with drug addiction, sexual abuse and homelessness. The study was based on snowball sampling and included a sample of twenty-eight child labourers with a mean age of 11.71 years. They had worked in the streets of Ahwaz for an average of 2.69 years and stayed for nearly 11.68 months in the centre. Based on the observation, behaviours including drug abuse and sexual abuse of others were common among most of them. It was reported that they had personally experienced sexual social abuse.

It was found that many of them had been involved in crimes such as pick-pocketing, committing sexual abuse against other children, drug trafficking as well as drug addiction (Baratvand, 2013). Unfortunately, today, rates of drug addiction are incredibly high in Ahwaz. In 2018, the Secretary of the Ahwaz Drug Coordination Council stated that Ahwaz is ranked 1st in Iran in the prevalence of addiction and confirmed that the detection of drugs has increased 180 times (Sedaye Jonoub, 2018). Worryingly, this social evil has harmed many children involved in working and has impacted society by passing down trauma from one generation to the next. 

 

Thirdly, working influences children’s educational life and their ability to learn new skills and abilities. Children, once engaged in child labour, are unable to return to school or continue their education since it prevents them from improving themselves and building new skills and abilities. Furthermore, it leads to fatigue, stress, lack of concentration and poor performance (Khether, 2022).

 

According to the results of SIMPOC Surveys, it was found that there is a high correlation between child labour and low literacy (Allais and Hagermann, 2008). Fourthly, the economic effects of child labour can affect the long-term growth of society, in addition to its direct impact on the child’s life and the family. Notably, societies with a high proportion of child labour suffer from high illiteracy and experience a lack of production because of the high level of unskilled and unqualified labour.

 

Likewise, employed children are unable to build unique skills and competencies and face many barriers to earning livable or high wages. It must be noted that countries with a high rate of child labour also lack the ability to attract foreign investments. This leads to intergenerational transmission of poverty, which harms the family and society as a whole (Khether, 2022). 

 

Mechanisms to reduce Child Labour: Discussion

 

 

This part of the study discusses mechanisms that could help some countries eliminate child labour. Sri Lanka was chosen as a case study due to the substantial improvements and efforts it has made in reducing the incidence of child labour. According to the International Labour Organisation, in 2010, Sri Lanka committed to reducing child labour by 2016 and cooperated with the mentioned organisation to achieve this goal (ILO, n.d.).

 

It is essential to mention that the aim of this section is not to show Sri Lanka as one of the safest places regarding child labour since the country still has a long way to go. The goal is to highlight its significant improvement during the past decades despite its economic crises. In comparison, Iran, which enjoys a better economic position, has not made any efforts in the arena of child labour. According to a report published by Iran’s Parliament Research Centre, the number of working children has been rising alarmingly (Iran International, 2023). 

 

Notably, according to a report published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) associated with the Department of Energy, Iran was the third-largest producer of natural gas worldwide in 2020 and the fifth-largest producer of crude oil among OPEC members in 2021. It was also ranked as the World’s third-biggest oil and second-largest natural gas reserve holder as of 2021. Additionally, it contains some of the largest amounts of proven oil and natural gas reserves worldwide. Thus, by the end of 2021, Iran held 12% of global oil reserves and 24% of the Middle East’s oil reserves (IRNA, 2023).

 

As discussed earlier, more than 90% of oil and gas reserves claimed by the Iranian government are based in Ahwaz, which is considered a driving engine of Iran’s economy. Nevertheless, children in Ahwaz suffer from the worst forms of child labour due to extreme poverty and are prevented from escaping poverty. The following part discusses how Sri Lanka progressed by improving and enforcing rules and regulations, improving access to education, promoting compulsory education, and supporting social programs.

 

  • Improvement and Enforcement of Regulations

 

The key success behind the moderate improvement achieved in Sri Lanka is enforcing rules and regulations since standards without enforcement are nothing more than empty promises. This reflects the reality in Iran that more than 40 years of false promises have led to many social problems. In contrast, the government of Sri Lanka has designed fundamental conventions that align with international standards and has, crucially, enforced these rules and regulations. For example, it has raised the age of majority from 16 to 18 to line up with international laws. Some other key laws and regulations introduced by the Sri Lankan government are as follows: prohibition of forced labour, prohibition of child trafficking, prohibition of commercial sexual exploitation of children, prohibition of using children in illicit activities, minimum age for voluntary state military recruitment, ban on compulsory recruitment of children by military, compulsory education, and free public education.

 

It is essential to mention that the government has also formed foundational mechanisms to enforce the mentioned rules and regulations. For example, the Sri Lankan Police have started new programs to monitor child labour and made law enforcement data available to the public. It also assigned forty officers to investigate and document complaints regarding child labour, in addition to approximately 300 child protection officers who were assigned to prevent children from being exploited (U.S. Department of Labour, n.d.).

 

  • Improvement of Access to Education/ Enforcement of Compulsory Education  

 

 

Sri Lanka has also significantly improved education by improving access to free and compulsory education nationwide. It has pursued new programs that protect children and promote their rights since ensuring children’s security has been one of the government’s main objectives (U.N. Human Rights, 2018). Even though children face barriers in rural areas due to transportation and inadequate staff, the government has planned new programs to improve their access to education. Notably, the country has been able to decrease the rate of child labour through the Compulsory Education Act No. 1 of 1998 (Ministry of Labour, Trade Union Relations and Sabaragamuwa Development, 2017). According to the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS), “Sri Lanka has made commendable progress in achieving near-universal access to primary education for both genders with a net enrolment rate of 99.7 per cent”.

 

 Based on the Child Activity Survey, 97% of children between 5 to 14 attend school continuously, although older children’s attendance rate was lower. 28.5% of children in the 12-14 age group do not go to school, while 78% of children from the 15-17 age category are not enrolled in school. According to the survey, about 28.5% of children (12-14) do not go to school, and 78% of children (15-17) do (Jayawardena, 2015). 

 

The Sri Lankan government has raised the minimum age of compulsory education for children from fourteen to sixteen (United Nations Human Rights, 2018). In contrast, in Iran, compulsory education is only for Primary School, meaning children between ages 6 to 12 (Hazari, 2015). However, the Iranian government has failed to enforce regulations related to compulsory education and has not made any effort to improve its rules and regulations. The literacy rate in any country reflects the government’s commitment to providing access to education for all citizens.

 

According to the World Bank (n.d.), the literacy rate refers to “the percentage of people ages 15 and above who can read and write with understanding a short, simple statement about their everyday life”. Based on data presented by the World Bank, the literacy rate in Sri Lanka was recorded as 92% in 2021, while in Iran, the literacy rate was 89% in 2022 (World Bank, n.d.).

 

It is argued that the literacy rate in Iran is much lower than the official one reported by the government since the regime attempts to deceive the international community and hide its violation of human rights. In that light, it is undoubtedly true that Iran is left behind by many other countries in the field of education. For example, in 2005, the literacy rate of the United Arab Emirates, a relatively young country, was 90.03% (Macrotrends, n.d.). The UAE government recently reported a literacy rate of 98.29% (Global Economy, n.d.). According to a report published by UNESCO on the U.N.’s International Literacy Day in 2015, the illiteracy rates in some Arab countries are as follows (Step Feed, 2018). 

  • Jordan: 97.9%
  • Qatar: 97.8%
  • Palestine: 96 7%
  • Kuwait: 96.2%
  • UAE: 93.8%
  • Bahrain: 95.7%
  • Saudi Arabia: 94.7%
  • Lebanon: 93.9%
  • Oman: 92.1%
  • Libya: 91.0%
  • Supporting social programs

 

The government of Sri Lanka has designed effective programs to support social institutions that combat child labour and has run an awareness-raising campaign to promote children’s rights. For instance, a $34 million campaign led by UNICEF has enabled children to access education, nutrition and safety. For example, in 2012, more than 285,000 Sri Lankan students were provided with educational materials, and 3,000 families were offered cash transfers.

 

Additionally, 2000 more people were given access to the 1929 Call Centre Helpline. The National Child Authority has applied a 24-hour toll-free emergency telephone service program to help impoverished and abused children. Additionally, there have been 379 childcare foundations responsible for assisting and supporting labour children by providing them access to basic needs, paediatric and psychiatric care, and educational services. In 2012, The Department of Labour cooperated with the Malinan Gold Marie Nidahase, providing financial support to vulnerable families to run their businesses and scholarships to children vulnerable to exploitation (U.S. Department of Labour, n.d.). 

 

Conclusion and Recommendations 

 

When addressing the plight of the Ahwazi people’s oppression, it is often mistakenly viewed as an isolated incident or simply the result of neglect by the Iranian government. However, the reality is that the oppression, discrimination, and marginalisation of the Ahwazi people is an ongoing systemic colonisation. One undeniable indicator of this oppression is the persistent rise in poverty and marginalisation experienced by Ahwazis. This is directly linked to the ruthless exploitation of Ahwazi Arab natural resources by the Iranian government, which has brought nothing but misery, pollution, and unemployment while further deepening the underdevelopment of Ahwazi areas, including education and employment opportunities.

 

Children are among the primary victims of this colonial policy, as they are born into weak and impoverished families that endure the hardships of poverty. These circumstances often lead to addiction, divorce, and uncertain futures for their parents, leaving the children without proper care and guidance. As a result, these children are forced to fend for themselves, facing a grim and uncertain future devoid of education and trapped in street work, where they are subjected to abuse and robbed of their childhood.

 

It is crucial to recognise that the oppression faced by the Ahwazi people is not an accidental or isolated event but rather part of an ongoing structural colonisation that must be urgently addressed and rectified. As Frantz Fanon emphasises, colonialism is not a rational system but rather a violent force that seeks to maintain dominance and control. This resonates with the reality faced by the Ahwazi people, where the Iranian government’s ruthless plundering of their natural resources and subsequent poverty and marginalisation can be seen as acts of violence perpetrated against them.  

 

The ongoing structural colonisation of Iran against the Ahwazi Arabs has had long-lasting adverse effects on the economy and development of the Ahwaz region, leading to widespread poverty. One major factor contributing to this poverty is the exploitation of resources by Iran, the colonising power. Iran has consistently taken advantage of the abundant oil and gas reserves in the Ahwazi Arab region, reaping significant economic benefits while minimising the Ahwazi Arabs’ control over their resources. Most oil and gas industry jobs are reserved for Persian immigrants in Ahwaz, with very few local Ahwazis being hired for higher positions. At best, they are only offered limited employment as labour workers. This exploitation has resulted in limited economic opportunities for the local Ahwazi population, pushing them further into poverty.

 

Iran’s colonisation policy also involves the confiscation of large sections of Ahwazi Arab lands throughout Ahwaz, leaving Ahwazi farmers without agricultural areas. Even those still have their lands face water scarcity due to Iran constructing massive dams on Ahwazi rivers, diverting the water away from downstream areas where Ahwazi communities used it for irrigation. Most of the dammed water is directed towards Persian regions. As a result, Ahwazi communities suffer multiple consequences, including the death of livestock due to thirst and the destruction of palm trees that were once a significant source of income. This has led to internal migration, with Ahwazi rural communities relocating to the outskirts of Ahwazi cities, living in inadequate conditions with a lack of essential services. Children are often forced to leave school and work as street vendors to help their families survive poverty.

 

 Iran’s discriminatory policies have prevented the Ahwazi Arab population from accessing quality education. Consequently, Ahwazi Arab children face significant barriers to obtaining a proper education, leaving them with limited skills and opportunities for economic advancement. This cycle of limited education and subsequent poverty continues to perpetuate the socio-economic constraints imposed by colonisations.

 

The enduring economic, social, and institutional consequences of Iran’s colonisation have significantly impacted the Ahwazi Arab region, resulting in persistent poverty. This burden extends to subsequent generations, including Ahwazi Arab children, who suffer from a lack of access to resources, education, and opportunities for economic growth. These effects continue to impede their ability to escape poverty and create a better future.

 

 Calling on the Iranian government to address child labour in Ahwaz appears to be ineffective, as the government is deliberately marginalising the entire Ahwazi population and plunging them into poverty, with Ahwazi children being the primary victims of this discriminatory and colonial policy. However, Ahwazi civic and human rights organisations, both within and outside Ahwaz, can collaborate to create initiatives that assist these children and their families. Additionally, reaching out to international organisations that prioritise the well-being of children can provide the necessary help and support they need.

 

Combating child labour in Ahwaz requires a holistic approach that can end the vicious cycle of poverty. It is possible to remove social evils in society through hope, aspirations, unity and action. Fostering unity and harmony in Ahwazi society has become more critical than ever due to increased challenges created by the Iranian government. Thus, Ahwazi activists inside and outside Ahwaz must take the initiative to bring the Ahwazi nation under one umbrella. Launching a specific campaign for child labour to raise awareness can be influential. It can help activists convey the voice of Ahwazi child labourers to the international community and human rights institutions.

 

Developing new non-profit organisations specifically led by Ahwazi activists specialised in the field of human rights is another helpful solution to eradicate child labour. They can help families vulnerable to child labour through providing social, educational and economic support. Providing free educational materials and cash transfers, as well as developing a free and accessible educational website, could enable Ahwazi children to learn and develop new skills and abilities. Fortunately, there many qualified Ahwazi individuals come from the highly educated segment of the Ahwazi society. They can educate generations of Ahwazi children and encourage them to complete their education. They can join hands to establish a free educational institution for Ahwazi children and adults who did not have the opportunity to attend school. It is also necessary to put pressure on the Iranian government to improve and enforce regulations concerning child labour through International Committees and Human Rights Institutions.

 

In conclusion, the root cause of child labour in Ahwaz is the Iranian regime, its policies, actions and inaction. Eliminating child labour is possible through eliminating poverty, improving and enforcing regulations, enhancing access to education, and supporting NGOs. Furthermore, the paper highlighted the adverse effects of social crisis on the child, family and the whole society. It also discussed how the Iranian regime has plundered all the Ahwazi resources and has left generations of Ahwazis trapped in poverty. It is an undoubted fact that the elimination of child labour in Ahwaz is highly challenging due to the government’s neglect and indifference. However, Ahwazi people are able to remove this social evil from society through hope, unity, commitment, aspirations, responsibility, action, integrity and resilience. 

 

 

By Lena Kaabi and Rahim Hamid

 

Edited by Leonie O’Dowd

 

 

 Lena Kaabi, an Ahwazi human rights researcher at at the Dialogue Institute for Research and Studies.

Rahim Hamid, an Ahwazi freelance journalist at the Dialogue Institute for Research and Studies.

Leonie O’Dowd, a human rights researcher and editor at the Dialogue Institute for Research and Studies.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hamid, Rahim (2023) ‘Ahwazi children’s horrendous deaths symbolise the regime’s neglect and indifference ‘, Dialogue Institute for Research and Studies. Available at: https://bit.ly/3TOZeZk [Accessed on 10/01/2024]. 

 

Step Feed (2018) ‘Arab countries ranked by literacy rate ‘. Available at: https://bit.ly/3u3EX7N [Accessed on 19/01/2024]. 

 

The Global Economy (n.d.) ‘United Arab Emirates: Literacy Rate’. Available at: https://bit.ly/3U2byFH [Accessed on 19/01/2024]. 

Macrotrends (n.d.). ‘UAE Literacy Rate 1975-2024’. Available at: https://bit.ly/490CidP [Accessed on 19/01/2024]. Macrotrends (n.d.). ‘Iran Unemployment Rate 1991-2024’. Available at: https://bit.ly/47JOAXd [Accessed on 18/01/2024]. 

IRNA (2017) ‘Young people from Abadan search for job opportunities’. Available at: https://bit.ly/4248vP4 [Accessed on 18/01/2024]. 

 

Mehr News Agency (2021) ‘Unemployment of Ahwaz pipe-making workers’. Available at https://bit.ly/3tZLH6F [Accessed on 18/01/2024]. 

 

International Crisis Group (2023) ‘Iran’s Ahwaz: Thirst and Turmoil’. Available at: https://bit.ly/3vCcPsK [Accessed on 18/01/2024]. 

 

IRNA (2023) ‘The Unemployment Rate in Ahwaz is 11.6%’. Available at: https://bit.ly/3Ob142O [Accessed on 18/01/2024]. 

Iran Student’s News Agency (n.d.) ‘Facts about Iran’s Unemployment Rate’. Available at: https://bit.ly/47JOAXd [Accessed on 18/01/2024]. 

 

Arya News Agency (2023), ‘Reduction of Unemployment Rate to 7.6%’, available at https://bit.ly/47JOAXd [Accessed on 18/01/2024]. 

 

 

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