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How the Other Half Lives in Iran - Artikel i New Yorks Times by Professor Shahram Khosravi


“People’s lives are worthless!” I repeatedly heard Iranians in the villages and the cities make this despairing declaration. Sociologists use the term “precarity” to describe this abandonment, this depriving people of a livable life. “The world has boycotted us,” Darab said. Before the sanctions were imposed on Iran, Darab and other workers would travel to Iran’s Persian Gulf area to work for oil and gas companies. Foreign companies moved out after the sanctions and the jobs dried up.

How the Other Half Lives in Iran. Every year more Iranians are classified as poor. Official sources reported in 2015 that 40 percent of Iranians lived below the poverty line. The unemployment rate among young people — between 20 and 24 years old — rose to 30 percent in 2016. This explains why more than 90 percent of the people arrested during the recent protests were under age 25.

About 11 million Iranians, around 50 percent of the work force, work in irregular employment, according to Iran’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Almost all young workers I met during my extended fieldwork in the past 15 years have been in irregular employment, rarely paid on time, with little protection from exploitative employers. Between 10 million and 13 million Iranians are entirely excluded from health, work or unemployment insurance.

President Trump’s anti-Iranian tirades leave no hope for lifting or easing sanctions on Iran. The fear of military attack by Israel or the United States has added to the popular anxieties.

Yet hope for democracy and social justice in modern Iran has been replicated time and again through political struggles, from the constitutional revolution in 1911, the oil nationalization movement in 1950, the revolution in 1979, the green movement in 2009 and the most recent protests led by the poor.