The horrific reports that come from Iran from time to time reveal the magnitude of the crises and social unrest experienced by the Iranian people, and the extent to which the government and the authorities neglect serious phenomena, that can only be seen as legal and moral crimes which are widely spread in Iran to the point that become exclusive to Iran as they are barely exist elsewhere such as child marriage, which has become a widespread phenomenon, not individual and rare cases as in the rest of the world.

The latest reports announced by Parvaneh Salahshouri, a member of the Iranian Shura Council, confirm that child marriage among girls is still widespread all over Iran, and that 6% of married girls are between 9 and 14 years old. In other reports, however, this rate was even much higher and reached more than 17% according to Tayebeh Siavoshi, a member of the Shura Council. Social welfare official Majid Arjamandi acknowledged the prevalence of underage marriage in Iran and confirmed that some 360 girls under the age of 14 had married in different cities in Iran, 10 of whom were under the age of 10! President Rouhani’s adviser on women and family affairs, Shahindokht Molaverdi, has repeatedly criticized the laws that allow the marriage of minors under the age of 15 and confirmed that among girls who married under the age of 15, there are those who were under 9 while the problem is that this is done legally.

The most serious details came also from Parvaneh Salahshouri who said that most of the girls who marry at this age have contracted cancer after the age of 30. Although the government and the Iranian authorities are aware of the seriousness of this situation, no measures have been taken to prevent child marriage. Reports also confirm that child marriage plays a significant role in the emergence of other social and security problems such as children trafficking, high rates of divorce, homelessness and many others.

Going through the Iranian laws concerning the child marriage, it was found that there is a government tendency not to prevent these cases, especially since the Shura Council had passed a law prohibiting girls under the age of 13 from marrying. However, the marriage of girls between the ages of 13, 14 and 15 years is still permitted, but even though, it has not been applied at all, and there are cases of marriage of children at the age of nine and ten, which is a moral and legal offense that infringes the innocence of children and affects human dignity and social principles, especially as it greatly increases the risk of cancer at the beginning of their life as demonstrated by studies and Iranian reports.

According to some, the Iranian authorities’ goal from allowing minors’ marriage is to raise the fertility rate in the country, where Iran suffers from the decline in the level of fertility and population growth, which affected the proportion of young people. Therefore, Iran becomes afraid of the aging population after the recent increase of 4%, which can be seen as a threat to the components of the Iranian state.

Some attribute the reason behind turning a blind eye to child marriage in Iran to the desire of many religious and political figures to marry young girls, which usually happen in secrecy between an influential man and a minor girl. This type of marriage gives an example to the exploitation of poverty and destitution of many families that fall under the extreme poverty. This confirms that these cases and phenomena are closely linked to the deterioration of the political situation in Iran and the result of the government’s failure to run the country, the spread of corruption and the interference in the countries of the region where the regime wasted the country’s wealth, while a good proportion of citizens are resorting to such phenomena to fill their stomachs.

Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre

January 9, 2019