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Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 18:25 GMT
Vice on the rise in Iran
Iranian women
About 200,000 Iranian women are now prostitutes
Islamic Iran's religious militia has announced the arrest of about 24,000 people on vice charges over the past six months.

Gholam-Hussain Kluli Dezfuli, commander of the feared Basij, told an Iranian paper that the numbers marked an increase on the same period last year.

The definition of vice extends to gambling and alcohol consumption but Commander Dezfuli said that 107 brothels had also been raided.

The BBC's Iranian affairs analyst, Sadeq Saba, says that prostitution is a huge problem which is embarrassing Iranians accustomed to viewing their country as a model for Islamic states.

In an interview for Entekhab newspaper, the Basij commander said that:

  • Arrests for the first six months of the Iranian year which began on 21 March were up 1.5% on the same period in 2001
  • In the previous year 670 brothels were closed down and 48,900 people arrested
  • The Basij seized 15,000 satellite dishes - which are illegal in Iran - and closed a factory producing them

The newspaper did not give any data for vice operations by the regular Iranian police.

Commander Dezfuli did not say what had happened to those arrested but he did add that his militia had delivered moral lectures to 1.5 million people.

The BBC's analyst says that there are no official figures on the number of prostitutes in Iran but recent comments by officials suggest a figure of up to 200,000 out of a population of 65 million.

Our analyst says economic hardship is mainly blamed for the increase in prostitution and Iranian women are also smuggled to Persian Gulf countries for the sex trade.

See also:

28 Jul 02 | Middle East
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