Early marriage is not criminalized in Iran – During 9 months, a reported 23,698 children under the age of 14 were married
Early marriage in Iran is among the most evident examples of violence against women in the mullahs’ misogynistic rule.
Child marriage means rape. When a grown man marries a child, he abuses that child. Marriage must be after the end of puberty; otherwise, it can have no meaning other than rape.
These are some of the statements made by Sima Ferdowsipour, a psychologist and university professor in Tehran. She considers the best age for marriage for girls to be 21 years old and above. She added that, due to its dangerous effects, marriage under the age of 20 should be banned (The state-run Khabarfoori news agency – July 29, 2021).
Iran’s National Statistics Center registered 7,323 marriages of girls aged 10-14 in the spring of 2020, and the marriages of 9,058 girls of the same age in the summer of 2020 (NSC report published on January 31, 2021; the state-run Tabnak website – February 5, 2021).
The NSC also registered 7,317 marriages of girls aged 10-14 in the fall of 2020 (The state-run ISNA news agency – July 23, 2021).
In other words, 23,698 marriages of 10–14-year-old girls were registered during 9 months in 2020.
In Iran, 100 marriages of children under 15 are registered every 24 hours (The state-run ISNA news agency – February 05, 2021).
The National Statistics Center also recorded 364 childbirths among mothers under 15 in the summer of 2020.
“If the same rate continues in the last quarter of last [Iranian] year [winter 2021], in total we can say that the number of children married in [the Iranian year] 1399, compared to [the Iranian year] 1398, has increased by about 12 percent,” reported state news agency ROKNA on July 25, 2021.
60%-80% of child marriages lead to divorce
Mohammad Mehdi Tondgouyan, Deputy Minister of Youth, said that the annual number of early marriages in Iran has increased due to the increase of marriage loan amount.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of underage marriages, especially among girls under the age of 13,” he announced (The state-run ILNA news agency – July 6, 2021).
Meanwhile, according to state-run ROKNA news agency (July 27, 2021), 70% of child marriages lead to divorce.
“We are currently facing a 60% to 80% failure in early marriages, which often leads to divorce,” said Davood Hezarei, a psychologist.
He cited depression and anxiety as consequences of early marriage for girls. Instead of studying and having a normal childhood, these girls are forced to face life challenges and suffer from mental disorders as a result.
Fatemeh Zolghadr, a former member of the Majlis, said many families decide to marry off their underage children as a means of reducing family expenses amid economic poverty. Unfortunately, the end of this tragedy is the rising number of divorced children. In several cases, divorced children have run away from home or attempted suicide, leading to serious injuries (The state-run Khabarfori website –August 2, 2021).
Early marriages in Iran are at least 5 times the official number
Mohammad Reza Mahboubfar, a social harm researcher, commented on statistics from the National Statistics Center: “This is the tip of the iceberg of statistics related to early marriage. The actual number of children married is 5 to 6 times the announced number” (The state-run ROKNA News Agency – July 25, 2021).
Mahboubfar added that a large number of these forced marriages, not registered due to the reluctance of families to come forward, involve girls under the age of 14. Mahboubfar stressed that to combat the phenomenon of child marriage, “this issue should be criminalized in the laws of the country.”
Many social activists have stressed the need to combat early marriage. However, the law banning child marriage has never been passed in Iran, and we still see that the number of child marriages in Iran is “about 30% higher than the global average.”
In yet another interview, Mahboubfar asserted, “Presently, 100 marriages of girls under 15 years old take place every 24 hours. It is estimated that by the end of the year, some 40,000 early marriages take place this year” (The state-run Arman-e Melli newspaper – July 27, 2021)
Poverty line of 14 million Tomans, one of the factors leading to early marriage in Iran
Increasing poverty and high inflation rates in Iran are among the causes of the phenomenon of child marriage.
According to Mohammad Reza Mahboubfar, “In the last 4 months, the price of housing and basic goods in Iran has increased by an average of 10 percent to 15 percent, and this has led to a rise in the poverty line.”
If the poverty line of a family of four in the country at the beginning of this Iranian year (March 2021) was estimated at an average of 12 million Tomans per month, today this line has reached 14 million Tomans per month (The state-run ROKNA news agency – July 25, 2021).
The effect of drought on the increase in early marriage in Iran
Drought has caused a water crisis and unemployment among village farmers and ranchers, leading to an increase in poverty and deprivation. The current situation provides a basis for the rise in early marriage (The state-run ROKNA news agency – July 25, 2021).
In the border provinces, the villagers’ lack of water always causes them to migrate to the central areas, especially the metropolises. The migration of rural people to the cities increases slum dwelling. Living on the outskirts of cities brings with it a variety of social ills.
Domestic violence, violence against women, and children being forced into early marriages are more common in the slums where an estimated 38 million people live. (The state-run Etemadonline.com, June 22, 2020)
In which provinces is early marriage more prevalent?
The highest rate of child marriage is in the border provinces of the country. In these provinces, economic and livelihood issues have led some families to force their young daughters to marry.
As a result, provinces such as Sistan and Baluchestan, South Khorasan, Khorasan Razavi, North Khorasan, Hormozgan, Bushehr, Kurdistan, Ilam, and Kermanshah, have recorded more early marriages than other provinces.
Mahboubfar acknowledged a significant data point about the central provinces: “Child marriage is not only taking place in deprived areas of the country. Child marriage is taking place in the central provinces, notably Qom, Tehran, and Isfahan. Moreover, marriages of girls under the age of 14 are more common among people who have migrated to these provinces from elsewhere in the country” (The state-run ROKNA news agency – July 25, 2021).
Early marriage in Iran is not a cultural issue – rather, it has become a social catastrophe due to the policies of the mullahs’ regime.