685 Iranian, Afghan and Pakistani scavenging minors, dubbed as rubbish children, have been identified in ten provinces of Iran, says a member of a charity organization.
Based on the research findings, 41% of these children are completely illiterate, 40% are sole bread winners of their families and 52% live at garbage dumps in an unhygienic environment, Iran Students News Agency, ISNA, cited Soussan Mazyarfar, representative of Imam Ali’s Student Society, as saying.
According to Mazyarfar, these children are either employed by the municipality contractors or city hall staff let them work at the garbage dumps, for a fee.
“For each of the garbage children, waste separation workshops pay 8000,000 rials ($240) to the City Hall waste collecting contractors to allow them to separate the collected garbage of the area”, Mazyarfar noted.
The research also shows that the rubbish children work ten to twenty hours and collect 60 kilograms (132 pounds) trash, per day.
Furthermore, according to the study, 62% of these children never use gloves and are exposed to various diseases, including AIDS, hepatitis, tetanus, typhoid, Aleppo boil, intestinal parasites, dysentery, polio, knee and back pain.
In comments made in July, 2017, Mazyarfar had revealed, “Many of the child workers are not only exposed to deadly diseases, but their faces, fingers and toes are chewed and injured by rats”.
Earlier, the Director-General of Tehran municipality office for Refuse Management, Hossain Ja’fari and his colleagues had dismissed similar research and reports as unfounded.
Meanwhile, Mazyarfar insists that NGOs are not allowed to freely study the case of these children, while there have been reports on researchers being beaten-up and battered by the municipality staff.
However, there have been several media reports on the tragic situation of garbage children in recent years.
Last year, reports on finding the bodies of two seven and eight years old Afghan brothers, Ahmad and Samad Bahrami, at a garbage recycling plant, shocked the society and was widely reflected in social media. Ahmad and Samad lost their lives in a gas explosion incident at the plant where they were hired to work.
Official sources have not yet presented any precise and reliable statistics concerning the garbage children.
Nevertheless, Iran labor News Agency, ILNA has reported that more than 120,000 children are hired to work at garbage dumps and refuse recycling workshops in Iran.
Most of the trash recycling centers are run by the municipality contractors, ILNA maintained.
Moreover, ISNA reported on June 12, 2017, that according to unofficial reports, there are seven million child workers, 3,200,000 children dropped out of school and a significant number of children who are abused and hired for dealing narcotics.
There have been strict laws and regulations endorsed before the Islamic Revolution in Iran that limit abusing children and bans hiring them and teenagers for hazardous jobs, including welding or working with high vibrating tools.
The same law prohibits hiring children for digging qanats, or working at animal husbandries, slaughterhouses, weaving rugs and kilims workshops, brick factories and bakeries.
Nonetheless, the number of working children in Iran is increasing so fast that it has reached a stunning point.