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Most the children are engaged in routine work, in particular street vending (73.2%), porterage (6.8%) and playing music (6.4%).
Most the children are engaged in routine work, in particular street vending (73.2%), porterage (6.8%) and playing music (6.4%).

Hotspots of Labor Children in Tehran

The majority of labor kids live in District 12 followed by District 15. Together, the two districts accommodate one-third of the capital’s street children

Hotspots of Labor Children in Tehran

In 2012 and 2013, a study was conducted in Tehran to identify risky behavior among street children that could lead to the spread of HIV/AIDs. The aim was to expand programs to control and reduce the prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections. In addition to the objectives of the project, the results of the research provided useful demographic information about labor children in the capital.  
The research team identified 225 hotspots where labor children often hang out, among which 28 were randomly selected for the studies. Tehran’s residential areas were also classified into three categories: low, average and high development zones for the purpose of research.
The data collected indicated that 55% of street children live in the low, 17% in the average and 8% in the high development zones. Around 15% live in unofficial settlements in the outlying areas of Tehran and commute to the urban commercial areas every day to earn their livlihoods, Tasnim News Agency reported.
“The majority of labor kids live in District 12 followed by District 15. Together, the two districts accommodate one-third of the capital’s street children,” said Dr Marveh Vameghi, a psychiatrist and professor at the University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences in Tehran.
Also, districts 2, 12 and 1 (in that order) are the most popular working areas for labor children.
“A comparison between their living and work areas shows that many of these young workers travel long distances to reach their work place. This requires due attention by the authorities,” said Vameghi.
The research also yielded information about the antecedents of the groups who comprise locals, Afghans and Iranian gypsies, known as ‘kowli’ in Persian. Around 59.4% of Tehran’s street children are Iranian, 36.3% are Afghans and 15.2% are gypsies.
“Iranian gypsies are distinct in terms of their personal, familial and cultural qualities as well as risk behaviors, and are therefore considered as a separate group,” she said. There are said to be around 1.3 million ‘kowlis’ in Iran.
Most of the working children live with their families or relatives and 85% belong to extended families. In spite of their financial constraints, the families often welcome multiple children as they see children as sources of income.
Around 75% of labor children live with their parents while 9% spend the nights with friends. “Around 12% are homeless and doomed to sleep on the streets where they work during the day,” said Vameghi.

  Majlis Research Statistics
As per official statistics by the Majlis (parliament) Research Center, as many as 3 million or 22% of Iranian children under the age of 18 are not attending school (not registered or dropped out for various reasons), while unofficial sources put this number at six million. At least half of these children (1.5 million) are estimated to be in the work force.  
Such a trend not only deprives children of a chance to develop through education, but perpetuates a cycle of poverty and ignorance. Some reports put the number of children living on the streets at 200,000. The problem of street children also extends to other cities such as Isfahan, Mashhad, and Shiraz.
Many of these children are said to be runaways, fleeing from difficult circumstances or abusive families.
The issue of street children is a serious concern in Iran as most of them are not orphans, but usually have drug-addicted parents, forcing them to live and work in the streets. They sleep in abandoned buildings, cardboard boxes, or abandoned vehicles and must find work in order to fulfill their own needs or those of their families. Others are children of refugees or unemployed parents, who work to help support their families.
Based on a 2015 study by the State Welfare Organization most these children are engaged in routine work, in particular street vending (73.2%), porterage (6.8%) and playing music (6.4%) or semi-routine work of garbage rummaging and collecting waste (9.6%) and panhandling (5.7%). A very small number of children (2%) are also engaged in the drug trade and pick-pocketing.
The Secretariat of the High Council of Welfare and Social Security at the Ministry of Labor, Cooperatives and Social Welfare, in June had said it has prepared a report on “Child Labor and Economic Vulnerability.”
“The report has been compiled after examining pertinent international case studies with the purpose of looking at factors responsible for the growth of child labor across the world, and establishing policies to tackle it,” in Iran, Rouzbeh Kardouni, head of the Social Vulnerabilities Office at the ministry had then said.

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