By Bahar Mehr \
Translated by Mansoureh Nasserchian \
There is a public bathroom in the park in front of my office. Hedges camouflage the entrance. A group of young girls arrives. A couple of them put their hands on the wall, pull down their pants and bend over. Others stand guard and charge young boys for having sex. Teenage boys arrive and start having sex with the girls, without any protection. Boys take turns. It is not crowded, only seven or eight teenage boys. Teenage girls are busy, too – two with offering sex and three with charging the boys.
It is a short distance between my tall building and the park, and I can see them clearly. It seems they have anal sex. After the job is done, they leave, laughing. Sometimes after their quick sex they go together to a hookah place. I hear rumors that they pay hush-money to the park security guard, an Iranian. Last year, one of my colleagues was really scared of watching this scene and she called the Police. But the time the Police arrived, they were gone.
Smoking cigarettes and drug use between teenagers is alarming. They smoke crystal meth in bathrooms or stairways in high schools, far from teachers’ scrutiny. During the last year, consumption of crystal meth by girls in high school declined. They switched to marijuana. In one of the elementary schools in District 17 a fifth grader was selling pipe-weed. The principal of elementary school charged the fifth grader by giving him a lower grade for ‘behavior’. It was the only action taken. My research is about girls and girls’ schools.
Self-harm is very common among high school girls. They injure themselves with a razor. Some carve a tattoo of their name with a razor, take a picture and post it in their Instagram. Some girls are expert in this and charge other girls for the service. Some girls, in spite of their interest for this kind of razor tattoo, are afraid of doing it.
Statistics of suicide and self hanging is higher than the number reported (there are problems with authenticity of the majority of statistics in the Islamic Republic of Iran). It seems the main reason for taking their lives is failure in love. But it could also be that their fathers beat them at home or their mothers have extra-marital affairs.
One of my students in the religion class intended bloodletting by a razor as a method of suicide. She asked permission to go to the bathroom. One girl who was her partner asked to go to bathroom at the same time, but their teacher did not allow them to go. The girl intending suicide became aggressive and was expelled from her class. She cut herself anyways, but was saved. The girls were lesbian and ‘lez’ is a common expression for lesbians among high school girls. The Education Department banned two girls going to bathroom at the same time, as love affairs between girls became very common in high schools.
Sara, a 15 years old student, became pregnant by her boyfriend. She was in her fifth month of pregnancy when her mother noticed. She made a medical case for her daughter, Sara, to stay at home and not be dismissed from school. Sara’s mother sold her daughter’s baby after the delivery for 25 million Toman (almost $8000) to a couple who could not have their own baby. Sara never saw her baby, although she saw some pictures of the baby. Sara has no clue what happened to the baby and is confused.
Sara is from an average family. Her mother has an office job and her parents are separated. Her mother is aware of Sara’s relationship (Sara and her boyfriend are still together). According to Sara’s boyfriend, they were drunk at the time of sex. Her boyfriend seems a reasonable boy in comparison with other teenagers and he is more concerned about their relationship and the adoption of their baby than Sara’s mother.
These days I am outraged about the foolish reactions of a parent and a principal in the case of a girl who had epilepsy. She is in Grade 8 and when she left her class, she had an epileptic episode. She fell down and lots of traveler’s cheques dropped from her pocket on the ground. The principal did not allow anybody to contact Emergency – she claimed it would be embarrassing for the school and could be considered a shame. The principal asked the classmates of an eighth grader if they had a cell phone and asked them to contact her mother.
One of the girls contacted the mother. But the poor girl with epilepsy was on the ground of the Prayer room from 9:00 to 1:00 p.m. After several phone calls to her mother, she finally showed up in the school. She was yelling and swearing at the principal, pointing out to her that she must know about the medical condition of her students. She said the principal must know about her daughter’s epilepsy and should not bother the mother for a “small” problem like that. After all the chaos, the mother dragged her daughter away. Nobody asked about those traveler’s cheques.
Years ago Dr. Darabi, a prominent professor in Education, said something that stayed with me for years to come: “One day Generation Z will reach the point where they will have to search the world for new ways to feed their perversity and need for ecstasy. They will change all the rules and conventions.” This is very obvious for me as I am exposed directly to this generation. Especially since the classes they take do not educate about morality, but rather are skill-based training.
It has been a while since I become very sensitive to understanding girls’ behavior in school and other places where they have interactions with society. I have been doing field studies in different parts of Tehran and there is no single day that I don’t observe strange behavior of teenage girls – from prostitution to weird methods of committing suicide, to bloodletting and different kinds of drug usage, and fifth graders smoking weed are realities of Generation Z.
I am hoping I can get legal permission to make a documentary about these issues. If you have any experience in making a documentary, I would appreciate you sharing it with me. Teachers and parents are not patient enough and not well educated about these issues. The situation becomes worse everyday. Girls are under lots of emotional and psychological pressure from teachers and parents. Sometimes when I hear the challenges of these girls I don’t know what to do and my energy gets drained. I don’t have enough solutions and I feel alone on my endeavor. Sometimes failure hunts me. But at night I go to sleep with hope that saving a life is saving a society.
In every conference and parent meeting I beg parents to be aware of their children’s rights. I tell them that nobody in the school has the right to physically punish their children. Nobody in the school has any rights to humiliate their children. Please be gentle to your own children. Please read some books about how to interact with your children. I ask parents to spend time in some available educational programs at Telegram, instead of spending time watching superficial Turkey soap opera.
I preach to parents not to punish their children. I keep telling them, please don’t make love in front of your children. I also remind them not to assume that their children are stupid and they don’t understand their mother’s relationship with multiple men. I emphasize they should not force their children to study hard all the time. I tell mothers not to swear at the father of their children in their presence. I beg them not to threaten their children and take threats to their children seriously. Children are not your slaves. Please do not oppress them.