by Staff writer, SF
Tehran has attempted to manipulate figures and deny the economic crisis that is occurring in the county, but poverty and hunger are the reality in Iran. A true picture of the afflictions suffered by the majority of the Iranian population is now being acknowledged by officials and the media.
Iranian economist, Hossein Raghfar, said, “according to our studies over the past few years, 33 percent of the country’s population is afflicted with absolute poverty, while another six percent, close to five million, are suffering hunger.” He added, “Our studies show that six percent of the country’s population, nearly five million people, can’t afford their food requirements, a stage we refer to as ‘the hunger line’, meaning a household income is not enough for meeting its food requirements. Besides, it’s not just the food cost that households are faced with, but there are other requirements such as commuting, clothing, and housing costs that households have to pay.”
State-run ISNA news agency, quoted him as saying on April 7th, 2018, “A household whose total income is less than the cost of minimum food basket will definitely be faced with hunger and problems accessing educational and healthcare services. Although government officials state that the figure is between two to three percent of the population, but as far as I remember, the Ministry of Health’s estimate was 10 percent. Besides, the figure doesn’t take into account those who are suffering malnutrition.”
Raghfar estimated the country’s number of people living below the poverty line to be 30 million, and those living below absolute poverty line to be 12 million, two years ago. Figures are likely much higher today.
In fact, recent figures released by the government economists regarding the unemployment rate and the gap between the rich and poor, are shocking, revealing homelessness, prostitution, and even more frightening: poor people who are selling their babies and body organs. The widespread poverty among Iranian people has led to crises like slum dwelling, working children, grave dwelling, and other social harms.
According to State-run Hamshahri Online website, on April 6th, 2018, another economist, Farshad Momeni, warned the establishment that, “we should be careful, otherwise it won’t be unexpected to have a recurrence of late December protests. We need to turn back to people and give priority to productive employment of the country’s educated population.”
State-run Shafaqna website, on April 6, 2018, cited Member of Parliament, Salman Khodadadi, who acknowledged that, “there are 19 million slum dwellers in Iran”, adding “19 million people out of the country’s 85 million are living under such conditions that they could easily cause problems for the future of our society. Poverty and slum dwelling are two of the most important problems that could lead to many other social harms and hurt social security.” He continued, “Social harms are crossing the red line, so much so that they could no longer be simply regarded as social harms, since they could raise security issues and threaten the society.”
When referring to the middle class in Iran, sociologists use the word “proletarianization”, which is a Marxist term for downward social mobility — the process by which sections of the middle class become absorbed into the lower class. With 80 percent of Iran’s population is currently living below poverty line, Iran’s middle class is being pushed towards the country’s army of jobless. Any household can easily fall into a crisis.
As the Iranian people face this reality, slogans such as those heard during the recent nationwide uprisings, show their willingness to overthrow a regime that does nothing to help them.