There is no rational link between multi-million-rial cakes and child laborers, who endure unimaginable sufferings and humiliation to makes ends meet. However, officials in Iran sarcastically honored the international day for the end of child labor by holding an exhibition of multi-million-rial cakes.
Iranian officials spend national currency on publicity shows while millions of these children must search garbage bins for finding something to eat or sell. According to a survey adopted by Shahraranews website on June 12, 2020, “There are between three to seven million child laborers in Iran.”
This is while the international community celebrated World Day Against Child Labor on June 12. However, the number of this phenomenon is increasing in Iran every day. Today, garbage-collector, homeless, addicted children have become an undeniable part of the streets and alleys in almost all provinces and cities.
Furthermore, suicide is a prevalent story among these teenage boys and girls. No day goes by without heartbreaking news about one or a couple of children committing suicide, particularly among low-income families. Recently, 13-year-old Reza Fiuji, who attended a TV program five years ago, committed suicide.
However, Reza was not the sole child laborer who decided to end his short life. Other child laborers are experiencing a gradual death due to the exploiting policies of state-backed institutions like municipalities. They have been deprived of essential rights and spend their nights in places like forced labor camps.
Indeed, officials line their pockets with the sincere work of these low-price workers, who honestly do their best to earn meager money and feed their family members. In such circumstances and regarding rampant poverty and growing inflation, many child laborers see suicide as the only solution to end their sufferings.
Multi-Million-Rial Cake, An Insult to Child Laborers’ Griefs
Recently, in a message addressed to journalists, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei advised them to provide “good, useful, and hopeful reports.” He explicitly ordered state-backed news agencies and the entire propaganda apparatus to conceal society’s real pains and portray a fake image from Iran.
Following the Supreme Leader’s order, the semiofficial ISNA news agency published a report about the exhibition of multi-million-rial cakes in Tehran on June 10. At the exhibition, organizers showed a 150 million rials [$625] cake called “Child Laborers.” In other words, the cake was around five times a simple worker’s minimum salary, based on the 2021 labor law adopted by the Parliament (Majlis).
Simultaneously, government agents mercilessly attack, beat, and arrest these little breadwinners. Indeed, the corrupt suling system is celebrating the day against child laborers inside luxury halls while oppressed children must endure harassment and humiliation on the streets.
The government pretends such publicity stunts as a sign of progress while these shows are only an expression of the institutionalized gap inside the Iranian society. They are further fueling public anger over the entire ruling system that squander national assets on supporting extremist proxies in the Middle East, constructing modern hospitals for other nations, advancing ballistic missiles’ ranges, and making nuclear weapons.