Despite public support of the ban across social media from the Iranian people and the international community, the authorities will not end this practice, which dates back to the founder of their Regime, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Khomeini was 27 when he married 15-year-old Khadijeh Saqafi and it’s a cycle that continued, with Khomeini’s son Ahmad marrying 15-year-old Fatemeh Tabatabei, and Khomeini’s successor, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, marrying 17-year-old Mansoureh Khojasteh.
Throughout the 40-year history of the Iranian Regime, the mullahs have promoted marriage at a young age for boys and girls.
Indeed, Iran’s International Deputy Chief Justice Mohammad Javad Larijani says that he was married so young he cannot even remember the age, while his brother and head of the Islamic Republic’s judiciary Sadeq Amoli Larijani reports getting married at 16 or 17.
Their brother and speaker of Iranian Parliament Ali Larijani married his wife, the daughter of prominent Regime supporter Ayatollah Morteza Motahari when he was 20 and she was just 15. The same is true for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who married his cousin Sahebeh Arabi when she was just 15.
But the most striking of all underage marriages of the clerics is that of Mohammad Reyshahri, the Islamic Republic’s first Minister of Intelligence, who proposed to the daughter of Ayatollah Ali Meshkini when she was just nine and married her at 11.
Failed defences of child marriage
While the Quran does not specify the age at which people should be allowed to get married, Khomeini and other Shi’ite jurists insist that it is after puberty sets in; arguing that the Prophet Muhammad married Aisha when she was just six and consummated the marriage when she had allegedly reached puberty at nine.
Fereshteh Rouhafza, a high-ranking member of Iran’s Cultural and Social Council for Women tried to defend child marriage recently, claiming on December 4 that it protects girls from “a life of prostitution and illegal abortions” so “opposition to child marriage is wrong”. Of course, other things that protect young girls from this is poverty prevention, healthcare, education, and not letting men sexually assault them, but Rouhafza failed to mention these.
Human rights defenders have long since dismissed these claims, rightly describing child marriage as child abuse.
Iran’s Association of Children’s Rights reported that, in 2009, 43,459 girls under 15 were married off, citing deepening poverty as one of the causes. Considering the poverty situation in Iran right now, its safe to say the number is now worse.