Gutting Iran


The fundamentalist Islamic regime controlling Iran continues to develop and employ an extensive structure of oppression thirty-five years after the Khomeini Revolution. The government has engineered its version of an Islamic society through strict ideological and economic controls. The ruling mullah cabal uses widespread propaganda to exploit the people’s faith and piety, and ruthless violence to intimidate and suppress any dissenters. These totalitarian tactics have thus far succeeded in maintaining the regime’s power base. The mullahs and their puppet government perpetuate a stunted political and social order reminiscent of the medieval Caliphate they idealize.

However, disheartening realizations about the revolution’s harmful effects have slowly eroded the favor of citizens that had previously served and defended the regime. The Khomeinists that seized power in the name of the so-called “dispossessed” have lost credibility and popular support. This disillusioned constituency finally recognizes and decries the deception and false motives used by the revolutionaries to take and maintain control. Worsening social, political, and economic realities have convinced many of them to join a growing opposition movement. The scope and depth of this opposition alarmed the regime and its loyalists during the 2009 post-election demonstrations.

These demonstrations and the regime’s brutal reprisals revealed the Islamic Republic’s deep divisions to the international community. Iran still suffers from persistent internal political power struggles. The inept economic policies and the rampant corruption have left the country in financial shambles. As the country stumbles from one figurehead president to the next, the people continue to languish in economic despair. The per capita income has settled at one quarter of what it was before the revolution. 1 The gap between the rich and poor has greatly widened, practically destroying the middle-class.

The regime wages disinformation and morality campaigns, which primarily target women and youth, to suppress key elements of the opposition. However, these efforts have produced the opposite intended result. Rather than passively accepting dismal conditions, common people  now increasingly express their rage and desperation. The regime’s strategy to push women back into the home in order to reestablish an archaic gender order has backfired. Rather than subduing the upstart feminists, the effort has instead spurred a remarkable increase in gender-awareness and dissent among women of all social classes. In addition, the regime and ruling class now face a formidable challenge from Iranian youth who constitute a little under 70% of the Iranian population is under 35. 2 The revolutionaries of the 1970s have reached middle age, and their children hold strikingly different social and political outlooks. As the first generation born and raised under Khomeinist rule, the youth in Iran oppose the very political and moral restrictions imposed on them by the clerics.

Unyielding political oppression, imprisonment, torture, and executions have become part of Iranian daily life.3 The not-so-secret series of assassinations of prominent intellectuals, patriotic leaders, and iconic opposition figures has also affected the average Iranian. Ordinary citizens now widely believe that the regime claiming to represent them instead views them as disdainful subjects to be exploited. The embittered public remembers the revolution’s dashed hopes, and seizes every opportunity to protest the political system that abused their fervor and trust. Iranian voters have repeatedly expressed their resentment toward the regime by voting against the fundamentalists’ favorite candidates in parliamentary and presidential elections.

Unfortunately, the regime remains uncompromising in the face of these challenges. In addition, the persistent outcries of the courageous Iranian people have been ignored by the world at large, achieving no lasting and cumulative effect. The populist movement toward self-determination, aimed at establishing a democratic system featuring the separation of religion and politics, falters for lack of outside succor. Without the attention and support of major Western powers and international organizations, political change remains out of reach.

Section 1: Drugs and the Iranian regime

Iran’s oppressive regime incites much of the social ills that beset the nation and its people through repressive policies that severely restrict civil liberties. Seeking to escape from the despair, a growing number of Iranians find refuge in dangerous, addictive drugs. At the same time, the regime’s heavy-handed response to this crisis actually further aggravates the situation. The regime has nominally implemented harsh prohibitions against drug use and trafficking, however, elements of the regime have actually assumed operational control over the vast majority of the illicit narcotics traded in Iran and throughout global distribution networks. The combined effects of these harsh policies and the duplicitous double-dealing have suppressed the economy, the arts, and the societal well-being of a formerly vibrant industrious nation.

In Islam, drinking alcohol is forbidden or haram. Instead, drugs—and especially opium and its derivatives—are cheap, strong, and readily available. According to Iran’s own figures, two million Iranians out of a population of 75 million are addicted.4 In fact, most experts agree that the real figure is much higher. 5 In any case, it is believed that Iran has the world’s highest rate of drug addiction per capita. 6

The cheapness of the drugs compound the general dismay of the people and fosters an atmosphere of desperate escapism. Supplementing this dangerous condition is the abundance of harmful drugs available to meet a rising demand. Iran shares a 936 kilometer border with Afghanistan, the world’s biggest opium producer. Eighty percent of the world’s opium is produced in Afghanistan, where much of the material for shipment to Europe passes through Iran 7; this geography facilitates the Iranian addiction problem, but it is not the reason for it.

Like most modern epidemics, Iran’s drug problems are centered in major urban areas. The capitol city, Tehran, has a population of more than 12 million, and a corresponding share of the city’s hardships. Tehran has become a locus of the drug scene in Iran. ‘Crack’ is Iran’s own heroin derivative, which is very cheap and extremely addictive, has permeated the poor of Iran’s urban life. Sheesheh (meaning ‘glass’ in Farsi), which is a homemade crystal meth, is also a cheap drug cheap and easily accessible by the poor. Courses for teaching people to produce crystal meth at home are said to go for as little as 2-3 hundred thousand Tomans ($80-120 USD).8 Darvaazeh Ghaar, south Tehran’s rambling bazaar district, is one of the hardest hit areas of the capital. The squalid Shaheed Harandi Park, 9 which borders on a pond, is the main gathering place for both men and women, addicts of all ages who cluster together, publically smoking meth out of glass pipes and injecting crack/heroin.

The roots of this deplorable state of affairs lies in the complex and profound disillusionment that the Iranian people now feel towards their Revolutionary masters. Before the Islamic Revolution, the rate of addiction was estimated to be anywhere between fifty and one hundred thousand 10 out of the 35 million population of Iran. In order to ease the process of rehabilitation, the policy at the time for combatting addiction allowed for a specified quota of opium rations to be distributed among people over 50. 11 The centers provided outpatient methadone syrup for young and middle-aged addicts and drug treatment and rehabilitation was readily available. After the Revolution, the outlook and handling of addicts and addiction changed, and addictive drug use was regarded as a crime. This led to the closure of drug addiction and rehab treatment centers and addicts were forcibly sent to camps.12

Iran’s totalitarian oligarchy greatly augments and contributes to a massive and growing drug epidemic, despite its strict anti-drug policies. Essentially, there are three primary aspects of the regime’s deceitful approach to managing the drug problem. First, they deny the scope, scale, and severity of the problem. Second, out of paranoid fear of the ‘subversive’ effects of drug treatment programs, they hamper and discontinue these programs and persecute the medical professionals administering the programs. Lastly, the hypocritical and destructive involvement of regime elements in the drug trade not only expands and exacerbates the problem, but also demoralizes the people through its shameless immorality. In short, the corrupt regime operates both the drug trafficking as well as the drug enforcement.

The Iranian regime’s malfeasance begins with stubborn denials of the scope, scale, and severity of the drug addiction crisis. This is evident in the official government statistics that greatly understate the problem.  Most experts agree that the true numbers portray a much bleaker picture. Despite its denial, the regime has made several visible efforts to curb the burgeoning dilemma. A recent article in the Al-Monitor by Bijan Khajehpour tried to shore up some hope in Rouhani’s campaign promise to deal with the drug problem in Iran:

“The latest statistics in this field were presented during a conference in Ahwaz by the director-general of the office for research and training affiliated with the Iran Drug Control Program, Hamid Serami. In an unusually transparent presentation, Serami outlined the following statistics: Some 1.325 million registered drug addicts are in Iran, excluding those who consume drugs occasionally or those who have opted not to register with any of the existing programs. Of these addicts, 58% are younger than 34, 9% are women and 22% have higher education. As a result, some 10 million Iranians (direct relatives of the addicts) have to struggle with the consequences of drug addiction. Serami also outlined that drug addiction has killed an average of seven people per day over the past two decades and is the second leading cause of death in the country after road and traffic accidents.

Unofficial estimates put the number of hard-core addicts higher (up to 4 million), but the total number will always be a guess in a society like Iran. However, it is significant that state officials have started discussing the drug-addiction trends in society.” 13

Khajehpour also admits:

“It should be noted that drug addicts are not treated as criminals and that the government perceives them as ill citizens who need professional treatment. The above statistics indicate that Iran’s harsh treatment of drug traffickers (including capital punishment for major traffickers) has not managed to contain the problem.” 14

Khajehpour further states, “Other realities that have certainly contributed to the scale of the problem are economic issues such as poverty and youth unemployment.” 15 Then he goes in for the hard sell:

“The total cost of this phenomenon to the Iranian economy is estimated to be $10 billion annually, considering that Iran runs a massive anti-drug campaign including methadone clinics, state-sponsored detoxification and rehabilitation centers, and needle-exchange programs. There are also a large number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are designed to help reduce the addiction problem through professional treatments, often in collaboration with international organizations. International observers have commented that Iran’s drug treatment programs are among the world’s most progressive; however, the challenge is so huge that an improvement in addiction rates has not been felt yet.” 16

Nonetheless, the article closes on this unexpected optimistic note:

“Evidently, any campaign trying to address such a huge challenge will have its flaws and bottlenecks. However, the decision of the new government to empower the civil sector and to work for more transparency on the scale of the issue will ease the current impact of the problem. In addition, the government’s growing attention to job creation as a main priority in addressing socio-economic challenges will also have a positive impact on the addiction problem.” 17

While laying out the seriously grim realities of this epidemic, the writer insists that Rouhani can and will address the contradictory nature of Iran’s drug racket. However, in the face of denial, the government has closed many treatment centers, hampering efforts to deal with drug addiction. Even worse, the regime has persecuted several leading drug treatment experts, further handicapping the effectiveness of national drug treatment.

In 2000, a comprehensive program, the Triangular Clinics program, developed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, was launched to reduce the damage of drug addiction. 18 Triangular Clinics in Iran train, counsel, teach prevention, offer counseling and treatment, offered methadone replacement treatments, free needle distribution, training for the prevention of blood borne diseases, and voluntary HIV testing. The clinic also provides HIV counseling and therapy, counseling and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (other than HIV). Brothers and Doctors Kamiar and Arash Alaie 19 were the founders of these clinics. However, in June 2008, the brothers were arrested and charged with “a conspiracy to overthrow the Iranian regime,” among other trumped up charges. Following a secret, one-day trial in December 2008, the Alaei brothers were sent to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. In December 2010 and August 2011, they were respectively released and they fled Iran for the United States. 20

In the early years, the clinics provided valuable—albeit limited—services. However, the Iranian regime admonished these assistance groups because of their association with undesirable members of society (drug addicts, sex workers, members of the LGBT, etc.). The positive international attention and praise that the organization and brothers received was also perceived as a subversion of the regime’s power. Consequently, the quality of care the Triangular Clinics, and other similar programs, offered declined as a result of the regime’s admonishment. The regime’s selective handling of the drug issue is disproportionately comminatory towards perceived abusers. The harsh government response not only fails to lessen the problems caused by widespread drug addiction, it also masks the true source of the problem in Iran: the government’s involvement and perpetuation in the criminal drug trade. Thus, while nominally imposing harsh sentences on drug offenders, the regime diabolically facilitates and furthers the drug epidemic plaguing the beleaguered country.

Despite the terrors unleashed on the civilian populace, there are many apparently beneficial aspects to Iran’s stringent enforcement of drug laws. First, this approach garners much international acclaim and monetary support for Iran. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2013 World Drug Report 21 confirms the Iranian regime’s claims of their willingness to cooperate and respond. On this topic The New York Times confidently described the regime in Tehran as the, “West’s stalwart ally in the War on Drugs.” 22

According to a report compiled by Human Rights Watch in 2012 23 from 2000-2009 the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office provided Iran with more $4.7 million USD for counter-narcotics assistance programs. From 2007-2011:

“Belgium, France, Ireland, Japan, and the United Kingdom provided $3.4 million USD through UNODC [United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime] to establish border liaison offices as well as for body scanners and sniffer dogs to be used at checkpoints, major airports, and the Iran-Afghanistan border.” 24

The European commission, European Union member states, and several other governments including Japan, Norway, Australia, and Canada, provide money, technical assistance, and legislative support to Iran under the program.

Sadly, the positive international recognition helps delude the United Nations and important non-governmental organizations (NGOs) about Iran’s true nature. The Iranian regime has managed to gaslight many international organizations. In 2011, Yuri Fedotov, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime praised Iran in a speech in Vienna 25 in which he claimed that “the Islamic Republic of Iran has put in place one of the world’s strongest counter-narcotics responses. Its counter-narcotics efforts, good practices, and concerns deserve the acknowledgement of the international community.” 26 However, weeks prior to Fedotov’s speech, the Iranian regime executed thirteen people in Mashhad’s notorious Vakeel-Abad prison, accusing them of drug trafficking. The Iranian regime continues to execute people by the hundreds accusing them of ‘drug trafficking.’

One example is the Iranian-Dutch political activist, Zahra Bahrami, who was arrested for participating in the 2009 anti-regime post-election demonstrations. 27 Although Bahrami’s original charges derived from her association with political organizations, as well as the fact that she had no history of drugs, she was falsely charged with drug trafficking. After months of imprisonment, torture, and rape was executed despite repeated objections from the Dutch government. 28

Iran’s harsh drug laws and ruthless enforcement actually serve to provide political cover for the regime’s brutal suppression of dissent. Moreover, these laws enable the regime to maintain totalitarian control of the country and its people. In 2011, the Iranian judiciary divulged new plans to intensify prosecutions for drug crimes. They amended the anti-narcotics laws, which already imposed corporal punishment for light drug felonies and the death penalty for trafficking, possession, sales or barter for a minimum of 5 kilos of opium, 30 grams of heroin or morphine (and recurrent offenses committed for smaller amounts) or the manufacturing of more than 50 grams of synthetic drugs such as crystal meth. 29 Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i, Chief Public Prosecutor of the Iranian regime, announced that his office would review some drug-related cases in the interests of expediting them through the Iranian regime’s sharia courts. 30 That meant some death sentences for drug-related crimes were no longer subject to appeal in the Supreme Court.

These draconian measures, many of which violate fundamental rights under international law, initiated a staggering wave of executions. Human Rights Watch believes that many of those executed may have had unfair trials, with little or no legal representation. 31 There is also credible evidence that the authorities executed 25 people for what they claimed to be drug offenses without notifying their families or lawyers.

The accumulated human cost of Iran’s so-called war on drugs lasting many years is staggering though nothing has been acknowledged or said by Fedotov, UNODC, or any other drug agency about the executions that the Iranian regime has carried out. The silence is particularly appalling given the fact that the Iranian regime itself is signatory to United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 33 The UN Human Rights experts have said, “In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, the sentence of death can be imposed only for the most serious crimes, which do not include drug crimes. Cases that do not meet these standards are tantamount to arbitrary executions.” 34

The UN’s own Human Rights Commission has specified that applying the death penalty for drug offenses is a violation of international law. Various Human Rights groups have also raised serious concerns over this. In October 2012, the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center issued a statement calling on the, “UNODC and donor countries to cease funding to Iran for anti-drug trafficking purposes until Iran renounces use of death penalty for drug-related offenses.” 35

In mid-November 2013, a panel discussion on the topic of drugs and addiction was organized on Iranian state-run TV and consisted of a handpicked group of experts. 36 Interestingly, open discussion on drugs are only now taking place. The first expert, Hamid-Reza Jalaipour, is a Tehran University professor of sociology. During the panel, he commented:

“Sixty percent of prisoners in the Iranian prisons are incarcerated on drug charges, as are most of those who have been executed. All societies deal with the issue of addiction; but the point is that how successful has (the Iranian regime) been in monitoring the situation? Given that there is a direct correlation between unemployment and addiction, your jobless statistics puts the unemployed at 3 to 5 million.” 37

The second panelist, Commander Ali Mowyedi, head of the ‘police’ narcotics division, added:

“Addiction and drugs in general, given our country’s geographic position is a ‘soft war’ tool. Drugs are one of the three factors that threaten countries and our country’s situation, given our neighboring Afghanistan, we are most susceptible.” 38

The third panelist, Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh, is a member of the social commission of the Islamic Parliament of Iran, and professor of medicine at Shaheed Beheshti University. He said, “In the areas that we have touched upon, that operate in a ‘Mafia’ kind of a format, every time we have severed the network, they have sprouted up again; they rebuild their network and once again, it starts to flow.” 39 Ghazizadeh indicated that social issues that affect the psychological wellbeing of individuals can lead to drug abuse.

Babak Deen-Parast, Deputy to the ‘Decrease of Demand of the Drug Combatting Unit,’ offered the last noteworthy comment. He said, “We cannot prevent the distribution of drugs in prisons, such as Evin, even. If we want to deal with the issue of demand within the country, we must prevent seventy million Iranians.” 40 The regime also controls the importing of medical supplies by manipulating its citizens as well as other well-intentioned nations to enrich themselves and maintain power. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) controls and restricts Iran’s pharmaceutical drug market. The importation of foodstuffs and medical products are not subject to the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran,

Besides exploiting the importation of legal pharmaceuticals, the IRGC also delves deeply into illegal international drug trafficking. The IRGC’s involvement with drug trafficking, however, has been reported for years by various Iranian journalists, analysts and former regime authorities who have defected to international media, Western governments, the United Nations, NGO’s and think tanks, all of whom have failed to recognize and respond to the issue. 43

Hugh Tomlinson of the London newspaper, The Times, finally reported in November 2011, that the Revolutionary Guards are heavily involved in the international drug trade, both directly and via proxies. 44 The report shows that despite the Iranian regime’s claim of zero-tolerance against drug traffickers and users, it is indeed the IRGC whose contrived expression of concern is nothing more than a cover-up to protect its own business and to covertly undermine the West. 45 Former Iranian diplomat, Abolfazl Eslami, who defected to Japan in 2006 and began to expose the Iranian regime says, “The IRGC has been involved in the drug trade for years. The group was motivated by both a desire to fund the militia independently and to destroy the West.” 46 Eslami recounts an incident where he was present at a drug destruction operation carried out in front of United Nations inspectors. Afterward, he asked the IRGC officials if they had really destroyed all the drugs. The IRGC leaders scoffed and replied, “Drugs would destroy the sons and daughters of the West. We should kill them. Their lives are worth less because they are not Muslims.” 47

“There are several commanders involved in smuggling narcotics. Raw opium or morphine is smuggled in from Afghanistan and developed in labs inside Iran,” 48 Sajjad Haghpanah, a former investigator with the IRGC’s domestic intelligence division, told the Times. Two officials who have been identified by various intelligence organizations were mentioned in the article: Abdollah Araghi, one of the leading commanders of Greater Tehran, and Mohsen Rafighdoost, another high-ranking official within the IRGC. They are known to be well connected to various international crime organizations, long active in the European drug trade. American sources have said that the IRGC organization is expanding into the U.S. and Canada. This affiliation provides the perfect cover for access to sources of financing bypassing international sanctions, as well as to sophisticated operational platforms that support its efforts against the West.

In addition to the connections and cooperation with various international crime syndicates, the IRGC also runs its own production and distribution networks. Huge quantities of raw opium are brought over the border from Afghanistan into Iran and there, in private local labs, it is extracted, refined, and processed into heroin and other opiates. The final product is then shipped over to the West via the extensive IRGC network of distributors who maintain their own forms of transportation and delivery mechanisms.

In October of 2012, one of these drug smuggling networks was exposed by Azeri media that reported that a 22-person gang, also involved in terrorist activities, was actually composed of operatives handled by the IRGC. 49 In 2010, Wikileaks also confirmed such activities by divulging a cable to the U.S. Embassy in Baku that read:

“Iranians’ formal businesses in Azerbaijan include factories, construction companies, trading companies and shops, some of which may be hollow companies hiding illicit or semi-licit activities. Some are also said to be significant actors in obtaining spare parts and equipment for the Revolutionary Guard, raising revenues, and managing money for it and/or regime figures, or managing Iran-origin narcotics trafficking.” 50

Among the IRGC’s many partners in their drug distribution network are the drug cartels in Latin America, which is among the Iranian regime’s most crucial strategic regions. The Iranian regime has, over the last two decades made hefty investments with dominant regional players such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Cuba.

Hezbollah is an exceedingly seasoned actor in all aspects of the international drug trade 51, and its vast involvement with the South American cocaine market is publically discussed in recent years. 52 Hezbollah is the conduit for the initiation and fostering of joint venture contracts with extensive drug cartels in countries like Mexico and Colombia, which transport drugs to the U.S. and other global destinations and launder huge sums of money. According to Michael Braun 53, the former head of the DEA’s operations department, the IRGC (Quds Force and Hezbollah) is deeply involved in the international drug trade, “which provides them with a vast range of operational and tactical opportunities to advance their strategic goals around the world.” 54

There also are the occasional, unintended confessions of nefarious activities by various regime elite. In May 2006, Mullah Ghorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi,55 Head of the Supreme Administrative Court of the Iranian regime, openly expressed the regime’s support and control of drug smuggling. He spoke during an event and said:

“If Europe takes any action against the Islamic regime, that drug smuggling to Europe, would intensify. Imminent official permit for the transit of drugs from Central Asian countries to Europe via the Iranian air and sea borders. The dispatching of concentrated and pure heroin to European countries in order to avenge the blood of young Muslim martyrs from ‘Sissy’ Europeans youths.” 56

The newspaper article also wrote, “The explicit wording of the Quran states that if they sting you, sting them back twice. We must always put blasphemers in their place and we should terrorize the young European Sissies as payback for the blood of our Islamic martyrs.” 57

In addition, in August 2006, Advar News reported that the brother of Mullah Niazi, the State Inspector General and former military prosecutor, was in possession of 95 kilos of opium and 45 kilos of heroin. 58 A day after newspaper, Kayhan—the Supreme Leader’s daily mouthpiece— published a proposal that promoted the idea of permitting the transit of drugs through Iran to Europe 59 as retaliation against European support of U.N. resolution 1696. 60

A third prime example occurred in January 2014, when Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, Chief of the General Inspector’s Office, announced that circumvention of sanctions policy has led to an increase in “corruption,” implicitly admitting to the Ministry of Intelligence and Surveillance’s involvement in drug trafficking. 61 During an interview with the weekly Tejaarat’eh Farda (Tomorrow’s Trade) and the conservative website Baaztaab’eh Emrooz (Today’s Echo), Pour-Mohammadi responded to questions regarding the economic activities of the Ministry of Intelligence and Surveillance. At the end of his answer he added

“We cannot reach our goals through wrongdoing. I’m quite certain that there is no benefit in crime; we will not even benefit partially. Experience has showed that crime, either inside or outside (Iran) will not help us achieve our aims. The fact is that the transit of drugs in any form is treason to humanity.” 62

This is one of the rare instances where a high-ranking official in the Iranian regime’s top apparatus insinuates that there is an implicit transit of drugs approved by the Ministry of Information. For years, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iran, intelligence and police, military, and security institutions of the three European countries involved in drug trafficking purposes.

Through all of these facts, statistics and reports, we see that the regime and its rigid, oppressive rule has created an increasing demand for these dangerous drugs. Even worse, the regime has denied the severity of the epidemic of drug addictions while imposing strict laws and harsh sentences for drug offenders. Moreover, the regime has stifled many worthwhile efforts that effectively combat the growing problem. However, the real malfeasance appears in the regime’s cynical exploitation of the drug trade for its own ends: first, to further choke and suppress any opposition or dissent; and second, to engage in the same illegal activities that it purportedly claims to be combatting.

Section 2: HIV/AIDS in Iran

In Iran, women and girls are most exposed to HIV/AIDS. 63 Researchers and specialists believe that the reasons vary. Based on the most recent statistics and available information of the World Health Organization women are eight times more susceptible to getting HIV even though with proper education and awareness, the disease can be prevented. 64

Dr. Firooz Arjomandi, a physician specializing in public health believes:

“Women and girls are most exposed to contracting the virus, due to a lack of awareness or attention during sexual contact. Men are the main carriers of the disease and given the fact of women’s’ existing susceptibility, any sexual contact is grounds for the transference of the virus. The Imam Khomeini hospital in Tehran treats many patients who have been driven from family, friends, and society in general, simply because they have HIV/AIDS. The fact is that in Iran, this disease is spread through needle sharing.” 65

Dr. Hourieh Shamshiri, a physician specializing in women’s surgery and deputy director of the Association of Family Planning in Tehran, is extremely concerned about the susceptibility of women and girls in the face of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Iran. She agrees with Dr. Arjomandi in his assessment that the female body, due to its physical structure and natural specificities, is more non-resistant to this and other infectious and venereal diseases. She adds:

“Due to sexual, cultural, social, and lineal issues, women are less able to resist this virus. Unfortunately, from a psychological standpoint, the women and girls in our society, are victim to serious cultural, economic and social problems and succumb to having to give into sexual transaction that they cannot refuse.” 66

According to the Health Ministry in Iran, HIV was transmitted primarily through the sharing of contaminated needles, but now is increasingly spread by sex. Dr. Arjomandi finds the rapid rate of infection in Iran disconcerting, and adds, “Unless there is proper education and information that is passed onto adolescent girls, and the proper healthcare system put in place for prostitutes, Iran will very quickly be on the list of the black ribbon HIV countries.” 67

Hassan Hashemi, the Rouhani cabinet’s Minister of Health, has expressed serious concerns regarding the skyrocketing number of people with HIV/AIDS in Iran, and says that patients are deterred from seeking treatment because of the social taboo. He added:

“This is more than Iran’s rate of inflation or increase in the price of property. The social stigma attached to an HIV patient and his family means that the disease is kept secret and that other than those relatives, there’s little social contact with those infected. Unfortunately, in Iran, the necessary awareness, social support, education and prevention is scant. In addition, now transmission through drug addicts sharing syringes is shifting to transmission through high-risk sexual activities. And last but not least, approximately 5% of HIV patients in the country are child workers.” 68

Gary Lewis, Director of the United Nations branch in Tehran, 69

“Between 2008 and 2012, the number of health facilities offering antiretroviral medicines in Iran rose from 86 to 290. That’s almost a fourfold increase in four years. In addition, this year, over 3,500 people in need of antiretroviral therapy in Iran were receiving it – 10 times the number getting such treatment back in 2005. What still concerns us, however, is that the number of newly reported infections still outpaces the increase in the number of people receiving treatment.” 70

Lewis adds:

“Iranian authorities have considerably improved the situation regarding injection drug users (IDU) through oral substitution therapy and needle-syringe programs. The 2008 report on the global AIDS epidemic described Iran’s needle-exchange program as one of the ‘clear examples of courageous, visionary leadership in the response to HIV.” 71

Children and HIV/AIDS

Though Hassan Hashemi claims that, “approximately 5% of HIV patients in the country are child laborers,” Deutsche Welle Persian reports that the Director of the Iranian Research Center for HIV/AIDS, describes the percentage ages of children who are infected with hepatitis and HIV/AIDS to be ‘horrifying.’ 72 Dr. Minoo Moharez says that what the Ministry of Health has reported from the very beginning differs greatly from the reality.

A study to assess the epidemic’s severity was conducted in 2008, on one thousand child workers, where the subjects ranged between 10 and 18. The results showed that 5% of those subjects in fact had AIDS and most of those also had Hepatitis C. 73 Dr. Moharez emphasizes the need to conduct a new study, given the rapid rise of the diseases found among children. She adds, “Trying to whitewash the presence of such a disease in the past years, has led to the current situation. We could have easily prevented this, so that we do not have to witness such horrifying increase.” She also maintains that the statistics reported on the number of people infected with HIV/AIDS throughout Iran is invalid and that, “what the Ministry of Health claims and what we see are two different things.” 74

There are no real statistics on the actual number of child workers in Iran though some sources claim it to be somewhere in the area of 2.5 million. 75 Based on research done by various children’s rights advocates in Iran, at least 32% of those children are physically, psychologically, and sexually abused on a regular basis. 76 Despite all claims, Hassan Hashemi’s own deputy reported on World AIDS Day. “The HIV/AIDS statistics in any part of the world has not even doubled since the year 2000, except for in Iran where it has escalated nine fold.” 77

Section 3: Prostitution Before and After the Revolution

Tehran’s pre-revolution red light district, Shahr’eh No (‘New Town’ is a series of 15 photos by legendary Iranian photographer, Kaveh Golestan, photographed in Shahr’eh No from 1975-1977) 78 was  set on fire and demolished during the crazed days of the 1979 Islamic revolution. Many of the prostitutes were brutally murdered by the Khomeinists who before and after the arrival of their leader, killed indiscriminately. The prostitutes who survived those frenetic days, repented and joined the ranks of the Iranian regime in order to protect themselves from execution or punishment. The Islamic regime considers brothels to be illegal and prostitution a criminal act and depending on the gender of the person operating the brothel; it can carry a sentence of anywhere between one and ten years imprisonment.

Once Khomeini was in power, he made sure that the Family Protection Law (FPL) was repealed. 79 The FPL, signed into law by the Shah, gave women many legal rights that disappeared once the Khomeini ruled. Now, over 35 years later, prostitutes are scattered all over Iran. Though there are no official figures, it was estimated that that in 2005, 300,000 women worked on the streets of Tehran. 80 On Motahari Street, in the wealthy northern part of the city, the price for an hour of sex ranges from $30-80 USD.

Iran’s Shiite Oligarchy is widely known for its strict enforcement of Islamic laws, especially those regarding sexual behavior. Prostitutes in North Tehran ply their trade openly with little, if any, police interference. Punishment for prostitutes and their clients can include up to 100 lashes and jail terms. The prostitute can be executed if she is married. Nevertheless, under Iran’s judicial system, a few dollars can buy off a policeman, and what few cases are prosecuted rest on the discretion of a presiding judge.  The Iranian regime has continually blamed social problems in Iran, including prostitution, on the west.81

We Have No Prostitutes in Iran

Until a decade ago, the hardline regime authorities totally denied that there was prostitution in Iran. Several recent incidents have forced the authorities to admit that their policies in dealing with such social problems are not working but it is not common for Iranian officials to admit to the existence of prostitution. Usually, this type of social issue is portrayed as a Western plot to create a cultural metamorphosis in society and corrupt Iranian youth.

In March 2008, the Tehran Province police chief, General Reza Zarei, famous for his bellicose ‘morality speeches’ on the Iranian regime’s TV and one of the “architects of civil security,” was arrested in a brothel. According to one of the prostitutes, Zarei was a regular client and on the occasion of his arrest had asked six of the women to remove their clothes and stand in a row, in front of him and pray, naked. 82

Iran’s justice minister, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, whose office had kept Zarei under surveillance for weeks, personally ordered the arrest. The Revolutionary Guards have, in fact, long been suspected of collecting kickbacks from Iran’s various red-light districts. Mohsen Ghazi, the case prosecutor, charged Zarei with pimping when he said that Zarei took advantage of his position and governmental privilege, abused his trusteeship and was financially corrupt. 83

Zarei supporters, headed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, went out of their way to hush up the case. Even after the regime offered a confirmation, the scandal was downplayed as “minor” and “strictly private.” 84 However, given the seething animosity among the regime’s elite factions, details began to leak and reports began to appear on Iranian sites and local newspapers, until the judiciary substantiated the story.

In 2001, the judge of a revolutionary court branch of Karaj, a Tehran suburb, was sentenced to ten years in prison and a lashing for having runaway girls work as prostitutes for him. 85 These are just a few of the instances where the Iranian regime’s own authorities were caught and held publically accountable.

For years, women have been reporting these and many other stories about the direct involvement of the Iranian regime’s authorities who abuse their official positions and frequent prostitutes. Many women have reported, for example, that in order to have a judge approve their divorce, they have been forced to submit to having sex with the judges, most of whom are clerics. Women who are arrested for prostitution say that the arresting officer invariably demands sex from them. There are also interminable reports of police and various other regime security apparatus, tracking down young women for sex for the wealthy and powerful mullahs. 86

Absence of Statistics

Statistics from Iran’s Welfare and Benefits Agency show that about 400 women are arrested every year in Tehran.87 Nevertheless, figures from other sources indicate that the number of street women and prostitutes in the capital is on the rise and are much higher than these numbers suggest. In 2006 the head of the Sociology Association of Iran, Amanollah Gharai estimated that there were at least 200,000 street women in Tehran.88 At that time, it was reported that there were 6,000 plus prostitutes in prison throughout Iran, ranging in age from 12 and 25 years. 89 During this time, several Iranian judiciary officials talked about creating a databank on prostitutes, but that idea quickly dissipated and no one ever mentioned it again.

Like many of the other Iranian officials, Tehran’s Disciplinary Police Chief, Hossein Sajedinia, has asserted that there were only a hundred or so prostitutes in Tehran. In 2011, he confidently announced that his forces could round up ‘street women’ within a week 90; of course, that never happened. A female member of the Islamic Parliament (Majles), Fatemeh Oliya, then challenged Sajedinia saying:

“On principle we take these figures at face value, as we like to trust our police department. Hence in view of the fact that apprehending these individuals is not a difficult task, the Majles too, will offer every cooperation necessary. If the suspects have been identified, then there should be no reason for dilly-dallying.” 91

Unconfirmed statistics provided by low-ranking officials are often all that social scientists have to rely on. The women are referred to as “street women”, “special women” or “runaway girls”, rather than prostitutes. During a July 2012 conference in Tehran on social harms and the effects on women, research results were presented showing that the age range for prostitution in Iran had fallen and prostitution among children was on the rise.92 Faculty board members and a number of students from the School of Social Sciences of Tehran University, Alaameh Tabatabai University, and the University of Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences who researched the phenomenon found that the starting age for prostitution among children is between 15 and 17 years of age. 93

The Director of the Social Services division of the Iranian Welfare Agency, Habibollah Masoudi-Fareed, asserted:

“A number of the prostitutes take up this line of work, not only due to poverty, but also to add to their income. This should sound the alarm bell for Iran’s society. Based on statistics from the rehabilitation centers of the welfare agency, ten to twelve % of the street women are married and during the last eight years, their median age range is between 20 and 29. Of course the statistics of our organization’s rehabilitation centers differs from social statistics.” 94

When Masoudi-Fareed’s comments were published in one of the Iranian regime’s affiliate sites—the Iranian Student News Agency—became so problematic for the editors that within a few hours of the information’s publication the title was changed and the names of the cities listed with the highest prevalence of prostitution deleted. Publishing these statistics angered the regime officials so much that they scrambled to deny the entire issue, which Masoudi-Fareed’s boss (the Director of the Iranian Welfare Agency), Homayoun Hashemi, to call her “just an employee” whose stats were unreliable. 95 He said, “Certain statistics have no positive function in society; instead, they have a negative psychological impact. It is better not to talk about them.” 96 However, none of this stopped the news from spreading and further research was conducted showing that less than 14 is the real age of entry into prostitution. 97

Observers emphasize the fact that many of the married prostitutes work with their husband’s full knowledge. This suggests that unemployment and poverty is an issue that both men and women face. In a recent Tehran study, changes in the tenor of the work has changed. In the 1980s and 1990s the age for prostitution was over 30, but since the year 2000 it has fallen to age 15. 98

If previously prostitution was a way to earn money for primary needs, now it is for secondary needs as well. Before, prostitution was taken up by single women who had a very low standard of education, and now it is taken up by married, educated women who are driven to it out of necessity. Presently, with the surge in the age of marriage and the decline of the age of maturity, the difference between maturity and marriage has fallen to between 15 and 20; however, in responding to these problems, officials and religious leaders have refused to offer any perspective on sexual issues.

The Prostitutes Themselves

Most stories of prostitutes involve poverty, drug addiction, and abusive families; often all of those go hand in hand. Like other parts of the world, prostitutes on the streets of Tehran, haggle with potential clients before they escort the ‘Johns’ (or “Mohammads’ in their case); believing that the price was settled and that they will be paid after their ‘business’ is completed. The prostitutes are often cheated or short-changed, and the whole situation more often than not, ends up in a loud confrontation. This scenario is regularly recounted by most prostitutes in Iran.

Of course, there is always temporary marriage, or Nekaah Monghata (also known as Seegheh), 99 a rather convenient covenant in Shiite Islam. Seegheh marriages, can last anywhere between the duration of intercourse, to a lifetime, and is something to which many women submit, in order to have financial support as frequently, women do receive money for entering into the contract. This is especially true of widows with children who have no other means of survival. By reciting a couple verse from the Quran, the deed is done and the verbal contract, which does not need to be registered, can be recited by anyone.

As an example, this is a flyer of an ‘agency’ that organizes such marriages in the holy city of Mash’had which is home to Shrine of the eighth Imam, Imam Reza, and where Shiite pilgrims travel for blessings. 100

In the 2002, The New York Times author, Nazila Fathi, 101 wrote about a woman named ‘Susan’. Susan was forced into prostitution at age 16 by her husband, who used the money she earned to feed his drug habit. At age 26, she left her abusive addicted husband and had no other means of support herself and her ten-year-old son, for whom she is the only breadwinner. In 2013, almost exactly eleven years later, Brendan Daly conducts another interview with another prostitute in Tehran, for The Washington Times.102 Though there is a ten-year and gap between the two interviews, not much has changed in the stories each woman tells; in fact, things are actually said to be much worse.

Parisa, which is a pseudonym, on the other hand is from a lower middle-class family from central Iran, and has a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. She is 23 and despite her degree, she is driven to prostitution. She has lost her job, which paid exceedingly low wages for someone with her qualification. She circulates in the affluent areas of uptown Tehran and there she is able to make the $80 USD per client. When she was ‘gainfully’ employed in her vocational field, $80 was three-fifths of her monthly income at a mid-size tech firm.103

Parisa is far from alone in this unfortunate trend; like many other young women in her circumstances, she cannot be dependent on her family, who lives in another part of Iran, and must do what it takes to survive the economic conditions created in Iran by the government. She knows she can become a seegheh (temporarily married) so that she is legally protected from the police—or perverts as she puts it; but so far, she has not bothered to do it. “No one cares about such things anymore, not in Tehran anyway,” she says, laughing. “The police don’t care. The mullahs don’t care. And definitely the young guys who pay me for my time don’t care about their religion.”104

Parisa’s wealthy, male neighbor criticizes: “Our girls are selling themselves on the streets! You never saw this five or six years ago, and all Khamenei can talk about is the nuclear program. What nuclear program? Some Russian-built antique that’s been sitting there doing nothing for 30 years?” 105

‘Cyber’ Prostitution

In 2012 news of cyber prostitution and internet sex also got out. 106 The site, which describes itself as independent and unaffiliated with any Iranian political faction, boasts an advisory board and contributing editors, all of whom are in the Iranian regime’s elite echelons. The article, penned by contributing editor to the site’s social section, Seyyed Mohammad-Hossein Hashemi, a documentary filmmaker close to the regime, offers an unequivocal brief on the rise of this hi tech by-product of the ‘trade’.

Many prostitutes use cyberspace mainly to find customers and avoid the possible risks that women on the streets might face. Using platforms like Facebook and Yahoo! Messenger provide them with protection and enables them to have loyal customers. They create a user identification to enter chat rooms. Statistics show that their 55% of their customers are between the ages of 16 to 25 and 45% over 25. 107 They engaged in video activity after they’ve introduced themselves, givne their age, and taken users credit card numbers; two thousand Tomans ($80 US) for ten and five thousand Tomans for thirty minutes, on camera. 108

‘Mahsa’ is a 21-year-old girl has been in the business for six months. 109 Her customers have no idea where she lives and her family knows nothing of her work. When she is asked to meet her customers in person, she agrees but charges more—between 25-80 thousand Tomans for an hour, and 90 to 300 thousand for the night. Mahsa also puts her internet colleagues—who are all different ages—in touch with new clients. She has a Facebook page with photos and her friends’ contact information, though she does not accept friend requests without charging two thousand Tomans for it. Then forty-eight hours later—and after the charge has cleared—she phones the client and provides her name and meeting place. Some of the women offer HIV/AIDS tests while others refuse.

Back in 2000, a small number of government departments suggested legalizing brothels under the name of “chastity houses” (khaaneh’yeh afaaf) as a way of bringing prostitution under control. 110 The floated plan involved using security forces, the judiciary, and religious leaders to administer guesthouses where couples would be brought together in a safe and healthy environment.s

Many politicians, clerics, and women’s groups denounced the reported proposal followed by government denial that such a plan was in the works. Nevertheless, the vigorous debate focused new attention to the scale of prostitution in Iran’s capital and the government’s eagerness to find a solution. Habibollah Masoudi-Fareed suggested:

“The Social Welfare Agency must take a more active position approach towards women and sexual workers. Many need to receive help and contraceptives, from the organization; however, because prostitution is considered a punishable offense, they do not call on the organization to ask for help.” 111

He has also said that policy makers in Iran are reluctant to provide even the minimum funding needed to help prostitutes leave the profession because, “they wrongly assume that prostitutes are to blame for the problems they face.” 112

Despite the acknowledgement of the problem, there seems to be no single government agency responsible for addressing the issue of prostitution. The spokesperson of Majles’ social committee a few months ago had said that:

“In the course of examining the issue of street women in this committee, the Wellbeing Organization announced that it would not accept the women the police had rounded up, adding that even if it did, it had the capacity to only keep twenty to twenty-five of them during a year.” 113

The Wellbeing Organization facilities for the larger Tehran area currently has the capacity to keep a maximum of fifty street women, while the police round up between 300-400 prostitutes every year; these women are sent to the Wellbeing Organization by court order. This is the same across the country, as there are only twenty-three such centers in Iran. While discussing this problem, an Iranian official said that runaway girls could not be kept at government facilities because they have not committed any crimes. Tehran’s police chief alluded to this problem when he said last year that rounding up these women involved going in a vicious circle, with no results. When the head of the Majles social committee was asked two years ago to present a plan to address the issues of prostitutes and street women, she said, “Our society has so many problems and issues that our top priority is unemployment and jobs for the youth, including other even more important issues.” 114

As Nazila Fathi writes in her 2002, NY Times article, at one time the idea of “chastity houses” was floated by various figures within the Iranian regime:

“One of the few religious leaders to speak out in favor of ‘chastity houses’ is Ayatollah Muhammad Moussavi Bojnourdi. Temporary marriage has been publicly approved since early 1990s by Iranian officials, particularly Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was president then, as a way to channel young people’s sexual urges under the strict sexual segregation of the Islamic republic. ‘I would not have supported chastity houses had it not been for the urgency of the situation in our society,’ he was quoted as saying in the newspaper Etemad. ‘If we want to be realistic and clear the city of such women, we must use the path that Islam offers us.’” 115

However, women’s rights advocates object to the concept of ‘chastity houses,’ saying that, “Temporary marriage should be used only for certain cases. It should not be promoted as a way to resolve such social problems” as prostitution. 116


The fundamentalist regime dominates the social, religious, and economic spheres of Iran. The regime denies its citizens many basic liberties through restrictive policies, depressing the economy and the culture with corruption and graft. Despite their intentions, these policies actually aggravate the undesired and illegal habits they are designed to prevent. Under the weight of these oppressive and unevenly applied laws—as witnessed in the 2009 Green uprising following the elections—a growing base of Iranian’s are mobilizing again the regime. But as earnest and determined as the anti-regime elements are, their prospects are dim without broader, sustained external support. Until the international community commits to supporting the opposition movement, the people of Iran will continue to languish in depression and fear.

Ironically, Iranian’s are now fleeing the Khomeinizied country in order to embrace academic, professional, and economic opportunities outside Iran. One of the most damaging repercussions of the Khomeinist revolution has been the ongoing and extensive emigration of educated Iranian’s moving to Western countries. 117 This ‘brain drain’ was disparaged by Khomeini in October 1980:

“They say there is a brain drain. Let these decayed brains flee. Do not mourn them, let them pursue their own definitions of being. Is every brain with—what you call—‘science’ in it honorable? Shall we sit and mourn the brains that escaped? Shall we worry about these brains fleeing to the America or England? Let these brains flee and be replaced by more appropriate brains. Now that they [the Islamic Republic] are filtering, you are sitting worried why they are executing [people]? Why are you discussing these rotten brains of [these] lost people? Why are you questioning Islam? Are they fleeing? To hell with them. Let them flee. They were not scientific brains. All the better. Don’t be concerned. They should escape. [Iran] is not a place for them to live any more. These fleeing brains are of no use to us. Let them flee. If you know that this is no place for you, you should flee too.” 118

Iranian activists inside Iran continue to fight against all odds to independently implement and sustain civic-minded ventures that address social damages in Iran. Such endeavors, however, continue to pose threats to the personal safety of many of the activists inside Iran—many of whom have made significant strides in bringing awareness of the regime’s actions to the world.


  1. Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, “Revolution and redistribution in Iran:how the poor have fared 25 years later,” Department of Economics Virginia Tech, The World Bank IBRD-IDA , May 2006,
  2. Thomas Erdbrink, “Urged to Multiply, Iranian Couples Are Dubious,” New York Times, June 7, 2014,
  3. Human Rights in Islamic Republic of Iran, Amnesty International, September 2014,
  4. Garrett Nada, “Iran Both Fights and Facilitates Narcotics,” The Iran Primer, June 26th, 2012,
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. “2013 INCSR: Country Reports - Afghanistan through Costa Rica,” U.S. Department of State, March 1, 2013,
  8. “The Other religion: Why so many young Iranians are hooked on hard drugs,” The Economist, August 17, 2013,
  9. Mehrnews, Septmber 8, 2012, #1691770,
  10. Maziyar Ghiabi, “Drugs and Revolution in Iran: Islamic Devotion, Revolutionary Zeal and Republican Means,” Routledge for Iranian Studies, February 6, 2014,
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Bijan Khajehpour, “Drug addiction takes toll in Iran,” AlMonitor, Iran Pulse, November 21, 2013,
  14. Ibid.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Triangular Clinic & Rehabilitation Centre, Iran, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime/Treat Net, International network of drug dependence treatment and rehabilitation resource centres, 2006,
  19. Physicians for Human Rights, Doctors Kamiar and Arash Alaei on CNN’s “Sanjay Gupta, MD,” 6:40 mins., Ocotber 25, 2011,
  20. Muhammad Sahimi, “Award for Alaei Brothers, HIV Advocates and Ex-Political Prisoners,” Tehran Bureau, July 24, 2012,
  21. World Drug Report 2013, United Nations, New York.
  22. Thomas Erdbrink, “The West’s Stalwart Ally in the War on Drugs: Iran (Yes, that Iran),” The New York Times, Hirman Journal, October 11, 2012,
  23. “Iran: Donors Should Reassess Anti-Drug Funding: Prosecutions of Drug Offenders Violate Rights, Results in Frequent Executions”, Human Rights Watch, August 21, 2012,
  24. “Iran: Donors Should Reassess Anti-Drug Funding,” Human Rights Watch, August 21, 2012,
  25. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), “UNODC chief highlights robust counter-narcotics responses on first visit to Iran,” July 18, 2011, Tehran and Vienna,
  26. “UNODC chief highlights robust counter-narcotics responses on first visit on Iran,” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), July 18, 2011,
  27. Abigail R. Esman, “Zahra Bahrami and Iran’s Voices for Freedom; Tehran is set to exceed its reported 2010 tally of 179 executions beofre the end of March,” The Wall Street Journal, Opinion Europe, February 7, 2011,
  28. Abigail R. Esman, “Zahra Bahrami and Iran’s Voices of Freedom,” Wall Street Journal, February 7, 2011,
  29. دانستنیهای مختصر و مجازات های مواد مخدر, “Brief information and Penalties for Illegal Drugs and Narcotics,” BabaFars Website, March 19, 2014,
  30. Wikipedia contributors, “Judicial System of Iran,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, September 23, 2014,
  31. Ahmed Shaheed, “March 2014 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, March 13, 2014,
  32. “UPDATE / Secret mass executions continue in Iran: 25 prisoners in Ghezel Hesar prison executed: 33 executions in one day,” Iran Human Rights, July 4, 2011,
  33. United Nations Human Rights, “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 Dember 1966 entry into force 23 March 1976, in accordance with Article 49,
  34. “UN experts call on Iran to halt execution, including 11 planned for Saturday,” UN News Centre, October 12, 2012,
  35. Shadi Sadr, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, Gissou Nia, “UNODC and Donor Countries Should Cease Funding to Iran for Anti-Drug Trafficking Purposes Until Iran Renounces Use of Death Penalty for Drug-Related Offenses”, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, October 10, 2012,
  36. آمار جدید معتادان/ سود ۳میلیارد دلاری قاچاق موادمخدر/ ارتباط مستقیم بیکاری، تورم و خودکشی با اعتیاد, English translation of title: “New statistics on drug addicts/ $3 billion in profits from drug trafficking/unemployment, inflation, and suicide directly connected to drug addiction,” KhabarOnline, November 9, 2013,
  37. Ibid.
  38. Ibid.
  39. Ibid.
  40. Ibid.
  41. “Iran Sanction,” Department of Tresury, August 15, 2014,
  42. “Guidance on the Sale of Food, Agricultural Commodities, Medicine and Medical Devices by Non-U.S. Persons to Iran,” Department of Treasury, July 25, 2013,
  43. Eli Epstein, “Iran drug addiction rate highest in world,” MSN news, August 22, 2013,
  44. Hugh Tomlinson, “Iran’s elite Guard ‘run global crime network pushing heroin to West’,” The Times of London, Middle East, November 17, 2011,
  45. Ibid.
  46. Ibid.
  47. Ibid.
  48. Hugh Tomlinson, “Revolutionary Guard ‘running Iran drug trade’,” The Times/The Australian, November 18, 2011,
  49. “Azerbaijan as an arena for Iranian terrorism and subversion,” The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, November 4, 2012,
  50. Wikileaks, “Viewing cable 09BAKU175, IRAN’S MONEY LAUNDERERS, SANCTIONS-BUSTERS, AND,”
  51. Matthew Levitt, “Hezbollah narco-terrorism, a growing cross-border threat,” The Washington Institute, September 2012,
  52. Mark Memmott, “Hezbollah’s Alleged Ties To South American Cocaine Trade Detailed,” NPR, the two-way, December 14, 2011,
  53. House Foreign Affairs Committee, “Former DEA Chief Michael A. Braun Opening Statement: Tour of Tyrants Hearing,” YouTube, 6:54 mins., February 9, 2012,
  54. Ibid.
  55. Wikipedia contributors ,“Ghorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi,” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, page version ID: 563718463, August 23, 2014,
  56. Dariush Mirzai, “Iran’s new threat against Europe: drug trafficking,”, June 5, 2006,'s-new-threat-against-Europe:-drug-trafficking-6362.html
  57. Ibid.
  58. برادر دادستان نظامی قتل های زنجیره ای با ٩٥ کیلوتریاک و ٤٥ کیلو هروئین لو رفت,
    “Brother of Military Prosecutor for the Serial Murders caught with 95 kilos of Opium and 45 kilos of Heroin,” PeikNet Website, August 2006,
  59. Banafsheh Zand, “Regime-run Kayhan newspaper demands transit for drug shipment from Iran into Europe,” Iran Press News, August 4, 2006,
  60. United Nations Security Council, “Security Council Demands Iran Suspend Uranium Enrichment by 31 August, or Face Possible Economic, Diplomatic Sanctions,” SC/8792, 5500th Meeting (AM), July 31, 2006,
  61. مصطفی پورمحمدی به طور تلویحی تائید کرد: وزارت اطلاعات در ترانزیت مواد مخدر دست دارد 
    Digarban Website, "Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi implicitly confirmed: Ministry of Intelligence and Serveillance has a hand in transporting drugs,” January 14, 2013,
  62. Ibid.
  63. ایدز دختران و زنان جوان, “Aids, Girls and Young Women,” IranHIV Website, March 2, 2014,
  64. UNAIDS, “HIV and AIDS estimates (2013)”, Islamic Republic of Iran,
  65. سایه نفرت انگیز ایدز بر سر زنان و دختران ایرانی، امیررضا پرحلم، خبرگزاری سینا, “The Dark and Hideous Shadow of AIDS on Iranian Women and Girls,” Gooya News, July 3, 2005,
  66. رشد آسیب پذیری زنان ايراني در مقابل, “The growing susceptibility of Iranian women to HIV”, Radio Farda, June 4, 2005,
  67. زنان و دختران ایرانی، امیررضا پرحلم، خبرگزاری سینا, “The Dark and Hideous Shadow of AIDS on Iranian Women and Girls,” Gooya News, July 3, 2005,
  68. تاکید وزیر بهداشت بر تابوشکنی از طاعون قرن - رشد سالانه هشتاد درصدی ایدز در کشور/گسترش قارچ گونه ایدز در کودکان کار و زندانها, “Minister of Health emphasizes the need to break the taboo on the plague of the century: 80% explosion of AIDS in the country/Sky rocketing among child laborers and prisoners,” Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA), Archive code number 92091006892, December 1, 2013,
  69. Saeed Kamali Dehghan, “Iran sees dramatic rise in HIV infections,” The Guardian, December 2, 2013,
  70. Ibid.
  71. Ibid.
  72. کودکان کار و زنگ خطر ایدز, “Child Laborers and the AIDS alarm,” Deutsche Welle (Persian), January 1, 2014,
  73. Ibid.
  74. Ibid.
  75. Ibid.
  76. Ibid.
  77. Ibid.
  78. Kaveh Golestan Shahre No Photo series 1975 to 1977, “Festival of Arts Website,” July 4, 2013,
  79. Wikipedia contributors, “Iran’s Family Protection Law,” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia, April 15, 2014, version ID: 604303211,'s_Family_Protection_Law
  80. Golnaz Esfandiari, “Iran: Prize-Winning Documentary Exposes Hidden Side of Society,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFERL), March 25, 2005,
  81. Parto Parvin, Arash Ahmadi, “Iran sets sights on tackling prostitution,” BBC News Middle East, July 26, 2012,
  82. “A Police Chief Incarcerated: Prostitute Scandal Rattles Tehran Government,” Spiegel Online International, April 28, 2008,
  83. Ibid.
  84. Ibid.
  85. Nazila Fathi, “To Regulate Prostitution, Iran Ponders Brothels,” The New York Times, August 28, 2002,
  86. Donna M. Hughes, “The Iranian Sex Trade,” Women Freedom Forum, June 14, 2010,
  87. رییس انجمن جامعه شناسی ایران خبر داد: کاهش سن روسپیگری در ایران, Kayvan Bozorgmehr, “Drop in Prostitution Age in Iran,” RoozOnline, June 14, 2011,
  88. Ibid.
  89. Ibid.
  90. رئیس پلیس: تهران فقط ١٠٠ زن خیابانی دارد, گردنبند برای آقایان ممنوع, Kaveh Ghoraishi, “Tehran Police Chief: There are only 100 street women in Tehran, collaring men is prohibited,” RoozOnline, June 7, 2011,
  91. Ibid.
  92. ایران اسلامی؛ تن فروشی در سنین کودکی, “Islamic Iran: Child Prostitution,” Iran Press News, April 17, 2012,
  93. Ibid.
  94. روسپیگری- از فقرتئوری تا فقر زنان, Ali Tayefi, “Prostitution - from theoretic poverty to poverty in women,” Radio Zamaneh, March 19, 2013,
  95. Ibid.
  96. Ibid.
  97. Ibid.
  98. Ibid.
  99. Fazel Hawramy, “Discrimination in Iran’s marriage law goes unchecked,” The Guardian, Iran Blog, March 6, 2013,
  100. مژده، مژده، سرانجام صیغه خانه بارگاه قدس رضوی گشایش یافت, Sohrab Arzhang, “Good news, finally homes for temporary marriage opens at the holy shrine,” Fozoole Mahaleh website, September 30, 2010,
  101. Nazila Fathi, “To Regulate Prostitution, Iran Ponders Brothels,” The New York Times, August 28, 2002,
  102. Brendan Daly, “Iran’s educated, middle-class and part-time prostitute,” The Washington Times, May 16, 2013,
  103. Ibid.
  104. Ibid.
  105. Ibid.
  106. آنها تن میفروشند؛ تنها با یک کارت شارژ, “They sell their bodies, with just one charge card,” Parsineh Website, April 9, 2012,
  107. Ibid.
  108. Ibid.
  109. Ibid.
  110. Nazila Fathi, “To Regulate Prostitution, Iran Ponders Brothels,” The New York Times, August 28, 2002,
  111. روسپیگری- از فقرتئوری تا فقر زنان, Ali Tayefi, “Prostitution - from theoretic poverty to poverty in women,” Radio Zamaneh, March 19, 2013,
  112. Ibid.
  113. رییس انجمن جامعه شناسی ایران خبر داد: کاهش سن روسپیگری در ایران, Kayvan Bozorgmehr, “Drop in Prostitution Age in Iran,” RoozOnline, June 14, 2011,
  114. Ibid.
  115. Nazila Fathi, “To Regulate Prostitution, Iran Ponders Brothels,” The New York Times, August 28, 2002,
  116. Fazel Hawramy, “Discrimination in Iran’s marriage law goes unchecked,” The Guardian, Iran Blog, March 6, 2013,
  117. Golnar Motevalli, “Iran’s Brain Drain Is the West’s Gain,” Bloomberg Businessweek/Global Economics, May 8, 2014,
  118. Wikipedia contributors, “Human Capital flight from Iran,” Wikipedia, The Free Enclyclopedia, June 8, 2014,
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Banafsheh Zand
Banafsheh Zand is a New York based independent Iran analyst and human rights reporter. She is a consultant for various US and European think tanks, international media, NGOs, etc. and works closely with all echelons of the Iranian factions (political prisoners, students, women, labor, LGBT, etc.) and on occasion has acted as their spokesperson in the international arena. Banafsheh's father, Siamak Pourzand was a renowned journalist and political prisoner.