On January 31st, the Statistical Center of Iran reported that approximately 9,058 girls between ages 10 and 14 were married in 2020.
Officials who enact marriage laws based on the Islamic constitution often cite the eighth-century Muslim scholar Imam Sadiq, who stated that a 'happy father' does not permit his daughter to menstruate in his house. Today, the basis of Iran’s matrimonial laws is formed from this specific interpretation of Islam.
Over 9,000 10–14 year-old girls married in 3 months
Last week a parliamentary bill that increased the amount of marriage loans for girls under 23 years of age was also approved, encouraging impoverished families to marry off their girls out of poverty.
— Peymaneh Shafi (@peymaneh123) February 20, 2021
According to the official data, those advocating child marriage often argue that the number of child marriages that end in divorce is minuscule by comparison. In the second quarter of last year, there were more than 9,000 marriages; but only 188 divorces were registered.
Officials who promote this form of child exploitation perceive these ‘low’ divorce rate statistics as evidence that child marriages are somehow conducive to stable matrimony.
Those apologists who say "well, these people have misunderstood Islam",they are essentially saying that the Quran is a terribly written book that can easily be misunderstood and hence has become a source of the suffering of innumerable people.#CancelIslamhttps://t.co/cUrAP3ZK1a
— Harris Sultan (@TheHarrisSultan) February 14, 2021
Hamed Farmand, a children’s rights activist, claims that often these marriages transpire in superstitious or rural communities where the child may not be able to escape the union if they want to — they have no other choice.
"Children who are forced by their families to accept marriage at a young age,” Farmand explains, “are generally unaware of their rights. And where there are cases of them raising their voices in protest, they are often still forced to endure the situation by those close to them. As a result, it is natural that the number of divorces is low. But this has nothing to do with the stability of the marriages."
Iranian officials decided the legal age for child marriage was based on physical maturity. Yet authorities disregard entirely the inhumane exposure of young brides who have not yet reached intellectual maturity.
Iran’s child marriage practice causes irreversible adverse consequences for the life of child brides, especially for those who get pregnant before they turn 18. In addition to fatalities while giving birth, psychological and physical harm befall young women in the form of lifelong depression, suicides, and divorces. It may also lead to a cycle of cultural and economic poverty.
State-owned banks provide easy loans to cover wedding expenses, which is causing a surge of child marriages in Iran — where rising numbers of young girls aged 13 and younger are offered up for marriage by their parents.
In April 2020, Bank Maskan advertised an offer to loan 100 million tomans ($23,720) to couples who marry this year. The loan is payable at a four percent interest rate within seven years, according to state guidelines.
Since girls (age 13 and younger) and boys (age 15) may legally marry in Iran, they also qualify for the loans. However, the funds are paid to their parents, who are still their legal guardians until they reach 18. These loans create an unprecedented opportunity for poverty-stricken parents to benefit themselves financially.
Speaker of the Judiciary Commission in Iran’s tenth parliament, Hassan Norouzi, was among the most persistent advocates of child marriage. “My own grandmother got married at the age of nine,” he once claimed, “and she had no problem!”
Children’s rights activist Hamed Farmand mentions explicitly: "Don’t forget that the majority of these marriages are between 10- to 14-year-old girls and adult men. Thus, power relations are formed, in which the child doesn’t have the necessary and appropriate capacity to defend herself against possible threats, violence, and marital rape.”