In Iran, child marriages more and more frequent

The testimonies exist, but the phenomenon does not disappear. On the contrary, last year at least 31,379 girls aged 10 to 14 were married in Iran, according to figures released by the Iranian National Institute of Statistics. That is an increase of 10% compared to the figures of the previous year.

On paper, Iranian law prohibits any union under the age of 13 for girls (15 for boys), and criminalizes marriages below the age of 9. Establishing a marriage certificate requires valid identity papers, and yet it appears that this legislation is not always respected.

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A derogation is also possible in the event of the consent of the father with the agreement of a local religious judge. According to examples from the Iranian press, some families pay to buy young girls, marry them and fill out official papers later, when they are over the legal age.

A bill for nothing

“The sale of children has continued to increase in recent years because of the Iranian regime which uninhibits this practice, confirms Mahnaz Shirali, sociologist specializing in Iran at the Catholic Institute of Paris (ICP), Totelevision broadcasts extol the benefits of marriage. The sooner the better, they say there, so that the girls are not corrupted by society. There are also the books used in primary school, which are different for girls and boys. From the early years, girls are taught the importance of marriage and children. “

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A protocol for the protection of children and adolescents was nevertheless adopted in the Iranian parliament in May 2020. The bill took up the main lines of a petition launched by defenders of children’s rights but was emptied of its substance by the conservative camp. Among the four central articles finally deleted, the text proposed to raise the age from which marriages would be legal. Some of the deputies voted against, including women.

“The religious justify this limit by referring to the story of Muhammad, who himself married his third wife Aisha when she was 9 years old, explains Mahnaz Shirali, dIn the mouths of the Ayatollahs, everything is clear, while in Islam we have very few details about the story of the Prophet. “

Poverty affects one in two people

Statistics on child marriages are also growing as the economic situation deteriorates in Iran, cornered by US sanctions, inflation and unemployment. The promise of receiving a substantial sum of money in exchange for their daughter’s marriage is tempting for some families of workers and precarious workers. In Iran, poverty affects nearly half of Iranians, who live on less than $ 10 (€ 8.5) a day.

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“In the westernized layers of Iranian society, among the better-off, women take longer to get married, describes the researcher. But the pressure still exists. The regime has succeeded in trivializing the shame of being single. “

Being a teenager during pregnancy greatly increases a mother’s chances of dying during childbirth and causes early childbirth and illnesses such as ovarian cancer, not to mention long-term depression and psychological disorders.

In the rest of the world, the share of women married during their childhood has fallen by 15% over the past ten years, according to figures from Unicef. Child marriages now affect about one in five women and no longer one in four women. Progress called into question by the Covid-19 pandemic, of which Iran was one of the most bereaved countries.

“The closure of schools, the absence of friends and support networks and the increase in poverty have reignited a fire that the world was already struggling to put out,” had alerted the director general of the UN agency, Henrietta Fore, last March.


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