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Poverty leads to massive rise in female Ahwazi pavement sellers

The number of female pavement sellers in the Arab majority cities of Khorramshahr (Mohamareh) and Abadan is soaring, according to a report published by Iran's Fars News Agency (download original report).

According to the news agency's report, the female roadside hawkers are the sole income earnings due to non-payment of wages by state corporations and endemic unemployment and under-employment among Ahwazi Arab men.

The age of female Ahwazi Arab hawkers, who sell food and handicrafts from the villages as well as smuggled goods such as cigarettes and chewing gum, is also falling.

Unemployment among Ahwazi Arabs is running at 50 per cent. Meanwhile, those employed by the state-owned ship-building and port companies are owed months of back-pay, leading to mass demonstrations and strikes (click here for more information). Women are now feeling the effects of the employment crisis, but most are illiterate and are only able to work in the informal sector. Yet, the Ahwazi Arab homeland is one of the most oil-rich in the world, with more oil reserves than Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates combined.

High poverty rates are the result of racial discrimination in employment. Ahwazi Arabs are denied jobs, while the government confiscates their land for residential developments to house non-Arabs brought enticed from outside the province with incentives such as zero-interest loans.