There are stories of Iran that mainstream media unfortunately refuse to cover. These days it is all talk about the smiling “moderate” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani launching his second term.
One dark side of Iran the mullahs’ regime have kept a lid on is the status of Iran’s young women. Despite having a highly educated young population, with women comprising the majority of Iranians going to college, the end result, however, is mostly heartbreaking.
Shahindokht is a young woman in her twenties working at a women’s clothes shop in Tehran’s Haft-e Teer Square. When interviewed she did not allow the reporter from Iran’s state ILNA news agency take photo of the store she works in, not even a small shot for a video-take, and nor will she allow the reporter name the store. She is afraid. Afraid of losing the job she was lucky to even find. When she talks about her conditions, one gets more familiar with the drastic circumstances young Iranian women are enduring these days:
“I was in my last year of college, unemployed and literally broke to the point that I was going crazy. My father had been unemployed for a few years and barely making ends meet. He had been a factory worker and I don’t know how he was retired after 20 years, while earning less in comparison to others like him. My older brother drove taxis for a while, until he became a drug addict. For the past few years he sleeps until noon at home, then smokes one cigarette after another until evening. He may work a few hours, just to make his drug money. And that’s it.”
She wants to share more of her pains, about life and her family, about a sister who has divorced, a mother who soon will most likely be diagnosed with Alzheimer… but she prefers to talk about her job, about working in the clothing store:
“For a few days I would buy a newspaper and look through the ads. I couldn’t find a job in my field, history. As I looked more I started to become hopeless. I came to understand I either had to start selling on the streets or down in the metro, or take a job as a typist or a salesperson. Typing wasn’t easy for me. I started looking for stores selling women’s clothing, and finally, a month later, I found this place. The day when I came for the interview there were many women in line. Such a long line, you should’ve seen it.”
Now it’s exactly eight months since Shahindokht is selling women’s clothing, and as she said, living on tips and percentage. She doesn’t have a written contract or a fixed paycheck. No insurance either…
“We receive a monthly salary of two million or three million rials in cash from the storeowner (the equivalent of around $100), for cleaning the place, making tea, providing some service. The rest is from how much we sell. At New Year my salary reached 15 million rials (around $500), but now it’s mostly no more than seven to eight million. I am waiting for late August and September. With schools and colleges opening, young ladies and school girls come flocking in to this square to buy new clothes. That’s when we sellers see better days…”
In the middle of her sentence two or three ladies enter the store. Shahindokht looked in despair, upset at why she had been standing outside talking. She has to go in or else the other sellers will receive the percentage, and who knows when two or three more customers will come by this store again.
There are many such young women in Iran’s huge capital, Tehran. Women who are deprived of having a decent job, forced to work in such conditions without a guaranteed future… These women can only afford a very minimum lifestyle if their storeowners are lucky in their sales… if not, they just come and go. Meaningless labor, without any light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.
This is the destiny awaiting young educated women in Iran ruled by the mullahs’ regime.