One-fifth of all marriages in Iran involves at least one party under 18, usually only a girl, which is a key example of violence against women
The Iranian regime enforces marriage laws that allow girls to be married off at 13, although they can be married even younger with the permission of a judge. Worse still, the number of girls marrying before 15 is on the rise, with the figure in 2019 four times that of 2018, according to Mohammad Mehdi Tondgooyan, Deputy Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, following the regime’s decision to offer marriage loans to young people.
In 2019, Judiciary Legal Advisor Ali Kazemi said that 500,000 to 600,000 children get married each year, although this doesn’t take into account unregistered marriages. While in 2018, the regime’s civil registration organization reported 234,000 marriages involving girls under 15 and 194 of girls under 10.
An Iranian sociologist told the official IRNA News Agency in 2019 that these young girls become “domestic slaves” for their husbands and are often dominated by their relatives.
In case you are currently not horrified by this, let us make clear that the girls involved are not marrying of their own free will. Children, after all, cannot consent to a relationship with an adult or the lifelong commitment that is marriage.
Instead, the girls, who are considered the property of their closest male relative, are often effectively sold into marriage because of poverty. The girl has her future traded away by those who are supposed to protect her, but they may feel that they have no other choice.
Some of the most shocking cases that we’ve heard include an 11-year-old girl forced to marry a 90-year-old man in exchange for 210 million rials [$812], which is a pittance, and an 11-year-old girl forced to marry a man to end a family dispute.
These early marriages do serious harm to young girls and we will list just a few of them here:
- Lower education attainment
- Increased likelihood of domestic and sexual abuse
- Physical damage to developing bodies due to early intercourse, pregnancy, and childbirth
- Increased risk of mental health issues and suicide
- Increased risk of substance abuse
- Early widowhood
The problem is that these child widows will have to provide for their children somehow. However, after leaving school early and being prevented from work, they will likely not be hired and the support available is minor. Many will have to do dangerous jobs, like porter or sex worker, in order to feed their kids.
None of this is acceptable. Child marriage should be ended, and women should not be treated as the property of their families, but this will not happen while the regime is in charge.