Children Forgotten: Iran’s Regime Prioritizes Repression Over Child Labor Solutions

Masoud Dalvand
2 min readJun 12, 2023

Originally published at Iran Freedom website

Child labor remains a pressing issue in Iran, with poverty serving as the primary driver. On World Day Against Child Labor, the United Nations theme “Social Justice for All. End Child Labor!” calls for addressing the root causes of child labor. However, in Iran, the government’s indifference and lack of action exacerbate the crisis.

Children in Iran can be found working in various sectors, including the streets, underground workshops, brick kilns, factories, and farms. Poverty forces many children into labor to support their impoverished families.

Accurate statistics on child labor in Iran are scarce, but available data reveals a concerning trend, especially in major cities. Poverty in the country continues to worsen, with an additional 11 million people pushed below the poverty line due to a soaring 69% inflation rate in April 2023. Even the middle class faces the risk of slipping into poverty.

Regrettably, the Iranian regime downplays the extent of child labor, providing contradictory figures and attributing over 80% of child laborers to foreigners. However, studies conducted by NGOs reveal that the majority, approximately 65%, of child laborers are Iranian, representing various ethnic groups.

Girls engaged in child labor face additional challenges, including lower wages, heightened vulnerability to sexual harassment and abuse, and increased rates of illness, accidents, and physical abuse compared to boys.

The lack of allocated funds for welfare systems further compounds the problem. The National Welfare Organization, responsible for addressing child labor and street children, grapples with resource shortages. As a result, both children and their families are left without proper assistance.

Instead of tackling the issue, the Iranian regime suppresses NGOs and activists dedicated to protecting children’s rights. NGOs struggle to obtain licenses from the Interior Ministry, while the municipality restricts their activities. Activists who report child labor cases to authorities often face inaction or false charges of acting against national security when they raise awareness.

Originally published at on June 12, 2023.



Masoud Dalvand

Human rights activist and advocate of democracy, freedom, and justice in Iran.