Widespread poverty and unemployment in Iran, and the catastrophic economic situation in society, have made life so difficult for millions of Iranians that they have been forced into vending on the streets to support themselves. The image of big cities has changed in the last 20 months after the coronavirus outbreak, and according to media reports, there are now 16 million people selling goods on the streets in Iran.
In big cities on the sidewalks, subways, in the buses, and crossroads which are crowded in all conditions, even with the sixth peak of the coronavirus, you can see old men and women on whose faces the bitterness of life has been carved. Even many graduate students are now among them.
A 45-year-old woman who introduced herself as the head of her family said that she has four children, two of whom are boys and one of them is a student, and their expenses are high, and she has been forced to work as a street vendor.
Due to the coronavirus situation, many people living in Tehran or major cities have lost their permanent jobs and now make a living through street vending.
Some of them working inside the subway, going from station to station and wagon to wagon for the sale of simple goods such and bracelets and clothes and any item that is used in everyday life.
A job that lowers their social credibility so some of them wear masks for fear of being recognized. Some street vendors choose the job as their second or third job, because they cannot afford to support their families, and unemployment insurance in Iran is so low that it is not worth pursuing.
Handselling, of course, for regime’s large companies importing large quantities of consumer goods, is making huge profits with these people working on the streets.
A more sinister phenomenon which is people are facing is a complex underground mafia network affiliated with Iran’s ruling factions, who blackmail and extort these people to allow them to do their job.
This network does not show any mercy to the street vendors, and on the day when these people have no income, they are accompanied by confiscation of goods and ugly insults, which is executed mostly with the alibi of blocking the public pathway.
Therefore, the suicide rate among these poor people is very high. As we have witnessed it over the past years some of them committed suicide, burning themselves in front of the regime’s offices, to protest the behavior of the regime’s municipality.
Farshad Momeni, an Iranian economist, says of the street vendors:
“These groups, who, due to poverty, give in to worthless and insignificant jobs due to the bankruptcy of the country’s economy, are ‘working in parasitic jobs.’
“There are many similar people in the Iranian society, and it has increased in these two years. In these two years of the disease invasion of Iran and the world, the equation of many people was broken.”
On September 15, 2021, the regime’s parliament speaker Mohamad Bagher Ghalibaf highlighted the true situation of the country in an interview:
“There is no sign of decision-building and management in the country, when we sit down in meetings, we make so many questions that no one knows where the solution is.
“If technology is considered in the field of governance, the imperfect administrative and executive structure that we have inherited for many years will resist technology and we find that this structure has no sense of technology and transformation.
“At the height of this situation it is said that we don’t have money in the country, we spend at least $160 billion a year just for fossil energy, while we know that 50 percent of this fossil energy is wasted and there is a lack of imbalance and injustice so that from this path the valleys of poverty and peaks of plurality arise.”
He emphasized that “unfortunately, we have imbalances everywhere in the country where we point to, the disparity in recruitment, the concentration of power, pension funds, the imbalance between discretion and responsibility, and where we have a revenue of $110 billion, but we see double-digit inflation when we have 20 billion revenues, and we still see budget deficits and inflation.”
Ghalibaf ultimately confessed to the regime’s impasse and said: “This causes additional deadlocks for the country every day.”