Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wives outnumber singles in Tehran sex trade

July 02 2008

Tehran -(INT.IOL.CO.ZA)

More married women are involved in sex-work in Tehran than single females, while the age of those working has come down and now ranges from 15 upwards, Iran's Sarmayeh newspaper said on Wednesday quoting academic research.

"According to recent research carried out in Tehran, the phenomenon of prostitution is being seen in married people more than single individuals," Kazem Rasoulzadeh Tabatabai, a specialist in women's studies, was quoted as saying.

The academic, who the newspaper said was presenting the result of studies on sex-work at a conference in Tehran, said that younger people have now become involved.

"The age of prostitution was over 30 in the 1980s and 1990s but now the age has fallen to 15 and above."

Rasoulzadeh Tabatabai, who heads the study group of "harmed women and girls" as well as the psychology group of Tehran's respected Tarbiat Modares university, said motivations have also changed.

"If prostitutes were only looking for the covering their basic needs in the past, now they are concerned about their secondary demands," he said.

Sex-work is strictly illegal in Iran and punishable by prison sentences and lashes. However, officials have long openly acknowledged the capital has a problem.

Typically, sex-worker in Tehran used to be young women who had moved from the provinces to the capital in search of a job or to study and entered the sex trade in order to make ends meet.

But Rasoulzadeh Tabatabai said that even this was changing.

"The phenomenon of prostitution was previously more common in migrants but now this has been spreading more among the local Tehranis. We cannot relate it to the issue of migration anymore."

The lecturer also said that more educated people have become involved in prostitution.

Another participant in the conference, titled Islam and Social Harms, underlined the importance of poverty in pushing women into sex-work.

"Some 11 percent of prostitutes in Tehran are involved in the business while their spouses are aware of it," said Hossein Ali Zahedipour, a member of the study group.

"These statistics show that there should be more attention paid to the issue of the unemployment of men as much as of women," he added.
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