Ahwazi Arab Women Street Vendors: Their Pains and Their Gains


In an interview with Ahwaz Monitor, an Ahwazi street vendor reveals her silent misery and the large scale discrimination and oppression carried out by the Iranian regime.

She says “I am almost 70- year-old. My name is Om’Samir. Living in my homeland, Ahwaz, is not easy but I try to everyday. I try to breathe every day, I fight every day, and I struggle to survive poverty every day.”
“It is a lonely life in a place where you can only live day by day and the only hope you have is that you’ll be able to bring some food to the table by nightfall. I am a vendor in the bazaar, I have sacrificed a million sacrifices in order to buy the goods that I sell.”
“I was left without bread for many nights. Cigarettes, chocolates, gum and other small things that I sell, allow me to eat some bread during the week. That’s all I have.”
“I found some courage to write in this note my thoughts that will never be told anywhere else. I am not permitted to express my anger, in all of my years I have learned how to obey. Only to obey, without expressing one word of opposition. I have learned how to listen but never how to talk.”
“The worst thing is that as a woman I can never learn how to appreciate myself enough. How can I, if I don’t even have the right to speak? If men don’t have rights in my country, how can a woman have rights? I am like all Ahwazi women, totally oppressed.”
“Sometimes I think that my life has no point at all. I can’t count how many days I cry. I can’t contend with the hot weather. It’s very hard, sometimes I need medicine for my legs, and because I get no help for the pain in my knees, it is becoming difficult every day that passes. But, my life is almost done, I don’t have any other goal than just to survive.”
“I must survive for my son’s smile. Samir, my youngest son is disabled. He has suffered from mental issues since his early twenties – depression brought him to this state. I take care of him and I need to buy medicines. But I rarely use the money that I earn at the bazaar not to buy food, but medicine.”
“He needs a cure but I can’t do much without medicine for him. I’m a desperate mother. I want to see my son smile sometimes but he is in a critical condition and my resources do not permit me. An oppressed woman that life didn’t give her much doesn’t deserve also to be stared at with despise. I notice that look in the eyes of Persian women that pass in the street.”
“They have a job that was unfairly given to them in my country, they have stolen everything from us ‘Arabs’. It feels like we were born to suffer in the most atrocious ways, in our own land, in our own place.”
“A month ago I was in the street to selling as usual, when I felt my energy was consumed, my soul is already almost entirely consumed. I feel I can’t make it, but thinking of my son, my heart and my body try to resist. As if this wasn’t enough, three weeks ago, something happened that made me feel like my whole world came crushing down. I was sitting as I do routinely on the street and I saw that the police was coming toward the bazaar.”
“They came toward me, and without a word threw away all the things I had. One of them came behind me and put the stun gun on my neck and rendered me unconsciousness. I didn’t feel anything anymore as I lied on the floor unconscious.”
“I spent two days in the hospital. I leave you to be the judge of this monstrous act by the Iranian government.  Who will care for us or see us or act for us?”
“We are also human beings who deserve a decent life. I’m with one foot in the grave after all these years of living in poverty, but do so for the rest of my people who are only fighting for their existence.”

Contributed by:  Teuta Orgocka for Ahwaz Monitor

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