Iran Focus: Tehran, Mar. 02 – At least 54 Iranian girls and young women, between the ages of 16 and 25, are sold on the streets of Karachi in Pakistan on a daily basis, according to report outlining the latest statistics. The report also revealed that there are at present at least 300,000 runaway girls in Iran, adding that the estimated number of women under the absolute poverty line was more than eight million. Iran Focus

Tehran, Mar. 02 – At least 54 Iranian girls and young women, between the ages of 16 and 25, are sold on the streets of Karachi in Pakistan on a daily basis, according to report outlining the latest statistics.

The report also revealed that there are at present at least 300,000 runaway girls in Iran, adding that the estimated number of women under the absolute poverty line was more than eight million.

A senior women's affairs analyst today revealed the findings speaking to a state-run news agency.

"According to an investigation by analysts, women comprise of only two percent of the country's administration force", Mahboubeh Moghadam said.

"Every day 54 Iranian girls between 16 to 25 years of age are bought and sold in Karachi, and the root of this crisis is the government policy which has resulted in poverty and the deprival of rights for the majority of people in society", she added.

Professor Donna M. Hughes, a Women's Studies expert at the University of Rhode Island in the United States, recently shed some light on the issue of human trafficking.

"Slave traders take advantage of any opportunity in which women and children are vulnerable", she said.

"Popular destinations for victims of the slave trade are the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf. According to the head of the Tehran province judiciary, traffickers target girls between 13 and 17, although there are reports of some girls as young as 8 and 10, to send to Arab countries. One ring was discovered after an 18-year-old girl escaped from a basement where a group of girls were held before being sent to Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The number of Iranian women and girls who are deported from Persian Gulf countries indicates the magnitude of the trade".

Hughes added, "Police have uncovered a number of prostitution and slavery rings operating from Tehran that have sold girls to France, Britain and Turkey as well. One network based in Turkey bought smuggled Iranian women and girls, gave them fake passports, and transported them to European and Persian Gulf countries. In one case, a 16-year-old girl was smuggled to Turkey, and then sold to a 58-year-old European national for $20,000".

Moghadam said that the report's findings indicated that organised gangs were smuggling girls and young women to the southern Gulf States by air and hinted that such a task was very difficult to carry out without some sort of government green-light.

"The number of runaway girls in the country is at least 300,000. Nearly 86 percent of girls who runaway from home for the first time end up being sexually abused", she added.

Highlighting the fact that more than eight million women are living in poverty, Moghadam said, "The number of youths who are suffering from psychological problems in Iran currently stands between eight to ten million people, the majority of whom are girls".

Moghadam noted that Iran currently has the highest suicide rate in the world, adding, "Every year seven thousand people commit suicide, the majority of whom are women".

Moghadam also criticised the government's treatment of women, adding that basic freedoms such as the right to choose what to wear and the right to take part in arts and sporting activities were non-existent.