Trafficking in Persons Report - Report Home Page
Released by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
June 5, 2006
IRAN (TIER 3)
Iran is a source, transit, and destination country for women and girls trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. According to foreign observers, women and girls are trafficked to Pakistan, Turkey, the Gulf, and Europe for sexual exploitation. Boys from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are trafficked through Iran en route to the Gulf states where they are ultimately forced to work as camel jockeys, beggars, or laborers. Afghan women and girls are trafficked to the country for forced marriages and sexual exploitation. Similarly, women and children are trafficked internally for the purposes of forced marriage, sexual exploitation, and involuntary servitude. The Government of Iran does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Iran is downgraded to Tier 3 after persistent, credible reports of Iranian authorities punishing victims of trafficking with beatings, imprisonment, and execution. The United States Government’s lack of access to Iran prohibits the collection of full and accurate data on the country’s human trafficking problem and its efforts to curb it. Nonetheless, sources report that the Iranian Government fails to meet the minimum standards for protection of victims of trafficking by prosecuting and, in some cases, executing victims for morality-based offenses resulting from their trafficking experience. Iran has taken steps, however, to improve its collaboration with source and destination countries to prevent human trafficking. The government should take steps to prevent the punishment of trafficking victims. Iran should also articulate a plan of action to punish traffickers and prevent trafficking in persons.
Over the year, Iran reportedly made some efforts to punish trafficking in persons crimes. In
April, a number of government officials, including members of the State Security Forces and
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, were arrested for engaging in the commercial sexual
exploitation of children. Despite this effort to address trafficking-related government corruption,
Iran did not provide any evidence that these officials were officially charged, prosecuted, or
convicted for trafficking offenses. The child victims of these raids–some as young as 13 years
old–were also arrested pending their judicial sentencing, presumably for engaging in prostitution.
The government should continue to conduct raids to identify and punish traffickers, but should
subsequently prosecute the traffickers and assign strict penalties for their actions. Iran should
also consider providing training to government officials on methods of investigating and
prosecuting trafficking crimes.
The Government of Iran did not improve its protection of trafficking victims this year. Although
government bodies provide some victims with legal, health, and counseling services, reports have
also emerged that victims are arrested and punished for violations of morality standards such as adultery, defined as sexual relations outside of marriage. Although it is unclear how many victims
are subjected to punishment for acts committed as a result of their trafficking experience, child
victims of commercial sexual exploitation reportedly have been executed for their purported crime of prostitution or adultery. For instance, one 16-year-old sex trafficking victim was hanged publicly by religious authorities who accused her of engaging in "acts incompatible with chastity." The governor of the town later congratulated the religious leader for his "firm approach." The Government of Iran should take significant steps to prevent the punishment of trafficking victims, and should improve the protective services available to victims.
During the year, Iran may have made modest advances in its trafficking prevention measures.
The government reportedly improved its monitoring of the border with Afghanistan, but provided
no details regarding this effort. Iran should improve its efforts to prevent trafficking in persons
by significantly improving border patrol with Pakistan and other neighboring countries to which
Iranian women and children are trafficked. The government should also institute a public
awareness campaign to warn women and children in rural areas of the dangers of trafficking.