Feature

Why our social ills are only getting worse.

The week's news at a glance.

Iran

Azar MansouriKanoon-e Zanan

If you think the West's social problems are bad, you haven't been to Iran, said Azar Mansouri in Tehran's Kanoon-e Zanan. In 2005, police here seized 300 tons of heroin, six times the amount uncovered by authorities in all the rest of the world. Heroin use has almost doubled in the past year; there are now nearly 4 million addicts (and in 2005, 5,000 died of overdoses). One reason is that bumper poppy harvests in neighboring Afghanistan have increased supply, but demand is soaring, too. Half of Iranian males are under 30 and, of those, some 50 percent are unemployed: For them, heroin—so readily available—is a big temptation. Drugs have also exerted their toll on women: Many take to prostitution to support the drug habits of their fathers, brothers, or husbands. And women turn to vice for other reasons, too. Those who get divorced, for example, are stripped of virtually all their rights and can't get a proper job. After the revolution in 1979, the Islamic regime tore down the red light districts and executed some prostitutes, yet the problem has only gotten worse. Girls as young as 13 can now be seen on street corners hawking their bodies. Our rulers always claimed that an Islamic government would rid Iran of all the problems other countries face. Now it is obvious that it hasn't made a jot of a difference.

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