Sunday, November 29, 2020

an unprecedented economic crisis is throwing Iranian society into the abyss

Saeed Madani is one of the leading sociological researchers in Iran. He explains how the economic difficulties exacerbate the social problems and worsen the psychological health of the most insecure:

In recent years, much academic research has been conducted in Iran on the “anger” of the population and the violence that results from poverty and economic problems. These studies clearly show links between unemployment, falling incomes, inflation and violence or crime. According to the National Bank of Iran, 20% of Iranians currently live below the poverty line, but according to other independent studies, would be around 35-40%.

In addition to these figures, poverty has changed. A few years ago, we experienced one-dimensional poverty. For example, insecure people had a house but did not have enough to eat. Now we face multidimensional poverty in Iran: there are people who can no longer pay their rent and bills, can not eat or take care of themselves.

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People are fighting in line to buy subsidized chicken 2019 in Tehran.

Iran is also experiencing “persistent poverty”. Studies show that you, more than ever, remain poor when you are born into a poor family and that you also follow the work of the poor. That is, people work but still live below the poverty line. In Iran, when a person earns less than 3.5 to 4 million tomans [111-126 euros, NDLR], she is considered living below the poverty line. But many workers and white-collar workers barely earn the Iranian minimum wage of 1.83 million tomans [environ 58 euros, NDLR].

This situation explains anger, the violence that grows in society. The Iranians are trying to improve their situation, but the context is deteriorating. They blame themselves and they blame society.

Suicide is one of the consequences of this violence that insecure people will inflict on themselves. 40 years ago there were almost 250 suicides per year, today it is almost 5,000 per year. The numbers have really jumped over the last ten years. The suicide rate reaches 8 per 100,000 inhabitants. This is almost equivalent to the world speed of 9.8 per 100,000 inhabitants.

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People fight in line to exchange dollars 2018 in Tehran.

Another form of violence against oneself is abuse. Some people hurt themselves because of their financial problems, and depression and drug addiction increase. A 2016 study showed that unemployment (in 16% of cases) and inflation (in 76% of cases) had an impact on people linked to drug trafficking in Iran. [Selon les statistiques officielles, le nombre de toxicomanes, toute drogue comprise, en Iran a doublé au cours des 9 dernières années, atteignant environ 3 millions de personnes, NDLR].

“People fight not to get poor”

Other people will blame their knowledge or society as a whole for their poverty. This is what explains the violence. When people line up to exchange their toman for dollars or buy subsidized products, they struggle to see others as obstacles that would prevent them from improving their lives. They are not trying to get rich: they are middle-class people struggling to survive, not to fall below the poverty line, which is why the struggle between them is fierce. Violence has also become common: violence against women, children and the elderly. It is estimated, among other things, that street fighting has doubled in ten years.

According to the Iranian judiciary, 50% of the people who have been arrested for petty theft in the last six months are people who have never had a criminal case. They have taken action because of the current context and it is a completely new phenomenon in Iran. [en août, une affaire a été très médiatisée en Iran : elle concernait un père de famille, chômeur, arrêté pour avoir volé un paquet de couches pour son enfant de 18 mois, NDLR].

People start stealing because they have no other choice. And since they have never stolen or been in contact with thieves, they are very easily caught by the police.

Today, between 25 and 30% of Iranians suffer from mental disorders and need help. We’re there. And the economic, social and political context in Iran does not currently indicate any improvement.

On August 5, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani announced an “economic facilitation plan”, without sharing further details. A few weeks later, on September 14, after much debate over the measures in this plan, Eshagh Jahangiri, Iran’s first vice president, announced that it was finally suspended.

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