The Iranians are traditionally strongly class conscious. The revolution partly changed the composition of the upper class: the highest among the learned mules received a special status, while many from the former leadership, as well as from the well-educated middle class, left the country or were executed.
Poverty is widespread, especially in rural areas. About 10 percent of the population is estimated to live in poverty. According to the measures used, the poverty line is $ 6 a day for urban families and $ 4 a day for rural families. But that was the situation before the United States reintroduced its economic sanctions on Iran (see Current Policy); The sanctions have led to an increase in the number of Iranians living under scarce circumstances.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Iran, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
In Islam, it is important to help the poor, and there is a functioning social protection network in Iran. Basic goods are subsidized and the poorest are offered cheap accommodation. There are also a wide range of charitable foundations, bonyads (see Finance), which provide assistance to the poor.
According to the constitution, the government is obliged to provide all citizens with sickness, unemployment and pension insurance, but the strength of the social protection network in general varies depending on the form of employment one has. Public employees, for example, are entitled to sickness and parental benefits and occupational injury insurance, but many private employees lack such benefits.
Everyone has the right to basic health care, although the quality varies. Newly graduated doctors are forced to work in the countryside for a few years, thus the number of doctors outside the big cities has increased. Infant mortality has fallen and almost all children are vaccinated. But there are still health problems, such as malnutrition, especially in rural areas. The causes are mainly lack of sanitary conditions, nutritional poor diet and lack of clean drinking water. Overall, the Iranians have been worse off and this is reflected in their eating habits. Today, Iranians eat less meat than in the mid-1990s. Consumption of rice and bread has also decreased.
When the United States, under President Trump, reintroduced sanctions on Iran, imports of medicines and medical equipment were exempted, but in practice there was still a shortage of certain medicines. Financial operators such as banks dare not make payments from Iran for fear of being punished by the US. The political lock-ups also contributed to a late response by the authorities in 2020, when Iran was the first country after China where the dreaded new corona virus was spreading. The regime in Tehran, which is happy to organize mass meetings to show popular support, delayed precautionary measures to combat the infection.
In the 19th century, opium was an export commodity and the cultivation of poppy increased since it was nationalized in 1928. Some of the exports remained legal when opium from Iran was sold to the pharmaceutical industry. But at the same time, addiction increased. Today, harsh penalties, including the death penalty, are applied to drug trafficking, but extensive smuggling from Afghanistan has led to the number of abusers of opium products, according to the UN, growing rapidly. The UN organization UNODC, which bases its reporting on state statistics, stated by 2020 that at least 2.26 percent of the population regularly uses opium and that it has also led to the use of more dangerous opiate forms (heroin). Other drugs such as amphetamines have also increased. The abuse of drugs has also contributed to the spread of HIV / AIDS immunodeficiency disease.
For the upper and middle class formed, the Islamic revolution became a shocking experience, even for those who did not support the Shah’s regime. The “storm troops” of the religious leaders, the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij militia, were considered to be made up of people who had the lowest status in the old system, ie poor, uneducated and petty criminals. Now they would take revenge and take power.
Today, the Revolutionary Guard’s leadership sits at the top of the power pyramid along with the highest spiritual leader and other conservative scribes. Traditional religiosity is generally strongest in the countryside and among the urban poor, and they reverence the new religious masters. The middle class and most young people in the cities do not take religious rituals very seriously, and the conflicts of recent years between fundamentalists and more secular Iranians, who long for another, more “western” life, have sharpened social contradictions.
Social mobility has been great, among other things when many young people from the lower classes were given the opportunity to study and raise their status, at best by obtaining “right” contacts and even getting married in a higher class. But despite all the changes, it is wealth, high education with a status job and belonging to a famous family or clan that still gives the highest prestige.
Iran is a distinctly male society where woman is subordinate to man. The woman does not have the same legal rights as the man and she is not considered worthy. For example, a woman’s testimony is only half as much as a man’s testimony, and the same distribution applies to succession law. These rules are found in the Qur’an (and, at the advent of the Qur’an, probably meant an improvement for the woman compared to the pre-Islamic society). To apply for a passport, a woman must have permission from her father, husband or other relative. Girls must wear a veil from the age of nine; often a solid black chador. Young unmarried girls may have to be examined to determine if they are innocents. Abortion is only allowed if the mother’s life is in danger or the fetus is malformed.
Men who want to divorce need not state reasons. Women now have the right to differ if the man is an alcoholic or drug abuser. Previously, she had to differ only if the man was impotent, severely mentally ill or unable to support the family. Men and women who want to have a sexual relationship can enter into temporary marriage, which can be interrupted after a few days. The woman has custody of her children up to the age of seven, then the custody passes to the father. She does not have the legal right to visit her older children after divorce.
Honor killings occur, especially among nomads. But the crimes are not accepted by society and are seen as crimes against Islam. The country’s highest spiritual leader Ayatollah Khamenei has condemned honor killings. In 2020, a case in Iranian media highlighted a case where a father murdered his teenage daughter, and angry voices highlighted the dubiousness that such a murder could be followed by less lenient punishment than a murder in other circumstances.
The woman’s position improved during Khatami’s time as president (1997-2005). More women work professionally and more work in politics and administration. More women than men are now admitted to the country’s universities and more and more lawyers, doctors and teachers are women. At the same time, freedom and rights are limited. Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Laureate 2003, went into exile after being banned from working as a lawyer. Several other women have received similar prohibitions.
In the family, the father / husband is the obvious head who expects obedience and respect from the others. At the same time, it is his duty to provide for them and meet their spiritual, social and material needs. However, this traditional role has faced conflicts, especially in Tehran, where young people who have become either extremely religious or secular find it difficult to submit to their father’s demands for obedience.
Large families with at least three generations, cousins and other relatives exist, especially in the countryside. The elderly are shown respect.
The Islamic revolution was followed by a baby boom and then by a child restraint program that has received international acclaim. But in 2020, the government warned that low birth rates could soon lead to population decline. Government policy has therefore been revised once again to encourage childbirth. State hospitals no longer have to sterilize men or provide women with contraceptives for free. Critics point out that households with good finances will be able to afford how many children they want anyway.
Regardless of age, unmarried children usually stay at home. Marriage within the family, for example between cousins, exists and is seen as a practical solution both financially and socially. Most men prefer a single wife, although a Muslim may have up to four.
Child labor exists but is not a widespread problem. The marriage age for girls has been raised from 9 to 13 years. For boys, 15 years are valid. Thousands of young girls escape from home each year, many of whom end up in prostitution. In Tehran, it is estimated that there are a few hundred brothels. Although prostitution is prohibited by law, it has increased and prostitutes are ever younger. In part, this is because increased poverty has hit women hard.
In principle, unmarried young people are not allowed to spend time with the opposite sex; if that happens it can be severely punished. However, many young people in Tehran defy this and seek themselves on the weekends to the mountains north of the city where they can socialize without much risk of transparency. Both sons and daughters are encouraged by their parents to study, which means that most marriages later than before.
The view of gays is strict. Under Islamic law, certain sexual acts are to be severely punished, but in practice several witnesses are required or the parties acknowledge. All forms of sex outside of marriage are criminal and same-sex sex is subject to the death penalty. At the time, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in an emphatic statement in 2007, claimed that there were no gays in Iran.
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 12 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected: 0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 94.9 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 88.4 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 7.6 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 415 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 6 percent (2018)
Russian nuclear fuel is delivered
Russia supplies nuclear fuel to the nuclear power plant in Bushehr. The power plant is civil and is monitored by the IAEA.
“Nuclear Threat Exaggerated”
An American intelligence report fades down the Iranian nuclear threat. The 16 security services report in a joint report that Iran is likely to suspend its nuclear weapons program as early as 2003.
Negotiation manager resigns
Iran’s nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani resigns, probably following a schism with the president.
The United States is facing a series of new sanctions.
“3,000 nuclear centrifuges”
Ahmadinejad says Iran has 3,000 nuclear centrifuges.
Reconcilable gesture against the IAEA
Iran agrees to allow IAEA inspectors to enter Arak nuclear facility.
Gasoline is rationed
The government is preparing for gasoline rezoning for a possible UN decision on new sanctions.
The IAEA fears Iranian nuclear weapons soon
The IAEA estimates that Iran can develop nuclear weapons within three to eight years.
IAEA Alarm for Nuclear Fuel Manufacturing
The IAEA says Iran has started producing nuclear fuel in an underground uranium enrichment plant. More than 1,300 centrifuges are in operation according to the UN agency.
Brits are released
The British soldiers arrested in March are released.
The president boasts about nuclear fuel
Ahmadinejad says Iran can produce nuclear fuel on an industrial scale.
Sanctions against banks and companies
The UN Security Council bans cooperation with the Iranian state bank Sepah and companies linked to the Revolutionary Guard.
British soldiers are arrested
Iran seizes 15 British flotists and naval troops who patrol the waters between Iran and Iraq.
Parliamentary criticism of the president
150 members of parliament accuse President Ahmadinejad of exacerbating Iran’s economic crisis through his aggressive policy towards the western world.