The many faces of violence against women
This time we examine the issues of child brides and honor killings in Iran.
Although the legal age of marriage in Iran is 13, but the law allows a girl’s father or paternal grandfather to wed her even at younger age. And there have been many examples of girls being wed at age 9 and even as young as 5.
At least 100 marriages of girls under 15 every 24 hours. One should bear in mind that considering the Iranian regime’s lack of transparency, the published figures must be regarded as minimum. 9,753 young girls between 10 and 14 were married in spring 2021.
The average rate of child marriage in Iran is 30% above the world average rate. Experts say this is the tip of an iceberg and the actual number of child marriages is 5 to 6 times greater.
A legal advisor to the Iranian Judiciary acknowledged a few years ago that “an average of 500,000 to 600,000 Iranian girls under 14 get married every year.”
The high rate of child marriages in Iran
The Iranian society is overwhelmed by poverty after being plundered by the mullahs 43 years.
Many families are so desperate in feeding their children that they would rather sell them hoping that the child would not go hungry.
For little girls, that takes up the form of marriage. It often happens that the father weds his daughter for only 1 million Tomans, which is merely 38 USD. That’s how desperate families are.
Such rise in child marriage is logical because the Iranian regime neither bans nor criminalizes child marriages. The regime actually contributes to this phenomenon by increasing the amount of marriage loans. Therefore, some poor families give away their daughters to receive the loan.
Another issue of concern in Iran is the issue of child widows because 70% of child marriages end in divorce.
According to the available statistics, 131 girls under 14 years and 2,650 girls between 14 and 19 got divorced in spring 2021. These young women often have children.
Again, the 2021 statistics say that 969 infants were born of mothers only 10 to 14 years old in spring 2021. Compare this to 2020, when 1,346 infants were born to the same age group throughout the whole year. You can see that this is an astonishing rise in the number of child mothers.
With such high divorce rates, the child widows in their teens immediately turn into single women heads of households.
The consequences of child marriage
The most common consequences are as the following: the child bride first drops out of school and cannot continue her education. Then she is exposed to all forms of violence and harassment by her husband. When they get pregnant, they risk dying during the childbirth.
Another serious consequence of child marriage is suicide. Just in the past couple of months we had considerable news on child brides committing suicide.
On March 30, a woman in Shiraz hanging herself. Her body was found four days later, as her 8-month old baby was crying in the room.
Child widows grapple with poverty and feeding their children. There was a young mother in southwestern Iran who killed her three children and then committed suicide. Another mother in West Azerbaijan killed her six and 12 year old children and then herself.
And most recently, the 17-year-old Sita Sheikh Moradi, the mother of a 4-month-old, committed suicide by setting herself alight.
Honor killings and femicides in Iran
Everyone heard the story of Mona Heydari, a young mother beheaded by her husband in Iran back in February. The horrific incident drew attention to the plight of women in Iran who enjoy no government or social support in the face of domestic violence. It also brought to light the fact that the country’s laws actually promote such brutal treatment of women.
None of the Iranian regime officials or leader condemned the cold-blooded murder of this 17-year-old woman by her husband.
Ironically, some described the murderous husband as “oppressed.” This is while Mona was a battered woman who had filed for divorce several times, to no avail.
Now after three months, a judiciary spokesman just recently declared that no complaints had been filed against the murderer and Mona’s family had not sought retribution. As a result, the murderer will most probably be finally released.
This is what promotes honor killings in Iran, because the law does not criminalize violence against women, and it does not punish the murderers. The Iranian regime’s laws regard the father and the husband as owner of women and as such, they are entitled to do whatever they want to them.
An average of 375 to 450 honor killings are recorded every year in Iran and at least 8 women fall victim to honor killings every day.
Honor killings account for about 20% of all murders in Iran and 50% of all homicides.
A two-year investigation by an NGO in Khuzestan province shows that at least 60 women, including 11- and 15-year-old girls, have been killed with none of the killers punished.
And the trend has continued to this day. A son running over his mother due to unfounded suspicions. A brother set fire to his sister. A 16 year old was shot and killed by her fiancé when she refused to get married, and the list goes on.
The root cause
The root cause of such growing numbers of honor killings is an inhuman and misogynist regime, which is the primary origin of all the problems in this period of Iranian history. Although the father, brother or husband hold the sickle, knife or the gun, the killing of women is sanctioned by numerous written and unwritten laws made by the mullahs’ medieval regime.
The bottom line is that the gruesome statistics of honor killings in Iran are rooted in misogyny and the patriarchal culture institutionalized by the law and the ruling regime. It is because violence against women is not criminalized by the law.
The VAW bill
The bill proposed to prevent violence against women has remained on the shelf for more than ten years.
For the Iranian people, especially women, it is evident that the mullahs’ misogynistic regime can never pass a plan for women’s interests and rights. Why? Because it has been founded on suppression of women and is the main sponsor of violence against them, and has institutionalized violence against women in its laws.
The logical conclusion is that there is no will in the clerical regime to adopt the bill to prevent violence against women or protect them in the face of violence. It makes sense why the regime has not signed the CEDAW or other relevant international conventions.