خانه / English / Special Report to Stop Child Marriage in Iran
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Special Report to Stop Child Marriage in Iran

Rayeheh Mozafarian

Statistics show that in today’s Iran, many parents and courts use the opportunities provided by Article 1041 to the community and they decide future of the children.

Article 1041: The marriage of a girl under the age of 13 years and a boy less than 15 years old shall be subject to admission but on the condition of expediency and the permission by competent court!

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Registering 37000 marriages of under 13-years old children in the last year in Iran was catastrophic # child global day

Adopted from Twitter of Nahid Khodakarami, member of City Council of Tehran

The change in the this law was in the agenda of the Department of Women and Family Affairs, as former vice-president, Ms. Mollaverdi was criticized several times  due to the direct mentioning of the problems of spouse children in the live television program. She was also among the first people, who write articles in this regard by referring to harm of widowhood children in Iran. In the eleventh government, conditions were not provided to take effective steps in this regard until representatives of the women’s fraction representatives of parliament pursued the issue, and recently, common meetings were hold among the members of the mentioned commission and some members of the cabinet.  Additionally, the Representatives of the parliament reflected the planned changes and their efforts step by step in accessible virtual and media spaces. Despite the fact that there is still confusion and uncertainty about the exact age of childhood in Iran’s laws, lawmakers should note that the increase in the minimum age of marriage is not enough, since this article contents have many shortcomings to Article 1041. These shortcomings can be named legal gaps, since law has not been determined in many cases where problems arise following this article. Dr. Rahmanali Gharehbaghi, a lawyer, has stated about the shortcomings of this law:

Unfortunately, despite the fact that law has determined the age of 13 for girls and 15 for boys, but it has given a way to escape, so we conclude that the marriage age in Iran is 13 years for girls and 15 years for boys at present. However, marriage before this age is subject to three conditions. In fact, these three conditions are the ways to escape, which causes early age marriages.

  1. A) Allowance of father of paternal grandfather: It means that he should declare his will to agree to the marriage. While his allowance is necessary (father or paternal grandfather), it is not enough
  2. B) Observing the children’s interest: The child’s interest is a very fluid concept and is has been referred as “Ghabte” in jurisprudence, meaning the high interests and benefits of the child (in Article 33 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child). In fact, it can be said that the child’s interests is a difficult task.
  3. C) Approval of the competent court: The most important condition that can ensure the rights of children and adolescents in these marriages is the intervention and approval of the court. The court examines the issue and allows the marriage if it is ensured that the best interests of the child have been observed. Without court approval, such marriages may provide the conditions for child abuse. The competent court in this regard is the family court. However, it should be noted that the child’s interest depends on various issues, including family status, economic status, social and educational conditions, and even legal requirements; for example, if marriage causes leaving school, it may not be child interest, so the judge should consider these to know if such marriages really for the interest of the child or not. However, it should not be forgotten that according to the holy sharia of Islam, in allowing the early age marriage, the legislative is forced to take the middle ground and determine the minimum age higher that the age determined in the sources of jurisprudence. On the other hand, it has assigned it for allowance of the father or parental grandfather or court. It is worth noting that in the black statistics reported on early marriages, the actual number is not exactly equal to what the statistics show, because some of marriages registrations occurs with delay, and in some cases, they are not registered, the marriage confidentiality concubine is read to legalize the marriage. The jurists and religious authorities did not show any tendency to increase the age of marriage for girls, and this plan presented by the women’s fraction of the 10th Islamic Consultative Parliament since last year has remained However, Tayebeh Siavashi, a representative of Tehran and a member of the women’s parliament committee, states that this plan has been opposed. In the women’s fraction, she asked on the outcome of plan of increasing the age of marriage for girls and boys. We are not opposed at present, though I still do not know the reasons for the opposition, and they only informed me that they have opposed the reformation of the marriage age. The age we proposed has been before in the Iranian Revolution civil law. In the bill of children and adolescents issue, the age of marriage was presented. At present, it is proposed that the age marriage to be changed from 13 to 15 for girls and 15 to 18 for boys. It has been written in Civil Law, but it requires to be reformed. We find one jurisprudential order from Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi in the critique of children at an early age. Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi gave Fatwa that the marriage of a 9 or 13 years old girl is not rational given the time and place situation, but we need more fatwas. The bill on child protection refers to limiting the absolute authority of parents. Article nine of this bill concerns with parents’ absolute authority over children, which has a high sensitivity, but ultimately we have to examine the issue. Although we also believe that the privacy of the family must be preserved, what should be done when the father kills the child? This problem should be solved by law. Although there are weaknesses in the law, the Welfare Organization faces some problems at the implementing stage. We also talked with the Women’s Obstetric Association, which believed that women face with high risk of pregnancy at early age, and we should get a set of documents from the Ministry of Health to negotiate on them with Qom’s authorities. It is necessary to note that the jurisprudence has not been properly observed in the law. The recent fatwa of Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi on prohibition of child marriage at current time conditions and current society, as one of the achievements of civil activists in the country, has been forgotten. The matrimonial condition for marriage, referred in views of some jurisprudents, would not allow child marriage.

This fatwa has been taken by author before parliament representatives’ pol and published in the book entitled “Ring: a look at early marriage in Iran

مکارم

A Javan Newspaper has interviewed with Ms. Ruh Afza, Social-Cultural Deputy of Women at the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, entitled “flattery to international organizations with increasing the legal age of marriage”. The interview states: “My question is, if a 13-year-old girl, who have the ability to marry and have a family, and she needs marriage and favorable conditions, does she need to wait until the age of 18?”It is not against the Islamic laws and nature of humans? If you are right and want to solve the marriage problems, do you know the statistics of fugitive girls?  Are you aware of the statistics of illegal abortions reported by Ministry of Health? Why should prevent girls who want to marry at the peak of puberty and ability? Marriage is never compulsory and if a girl can remain single if she likes. In these conditions, the wrong approach is to prevent the marriage of people and expand the corruption in society in order to satisfy UNICEF and UNESCO. Isn’t it against Islamic laws and nature of humans? If you are right, are you informed of the statistics of fugitive girls? Those who oppose increasing the age of children and constantly condemn the marriage of children and their allowance to Islam do not know that exceptions govern on whole now in Iran’s law at present. Most opponents of changing current laws in this regard point out that what if the girl is ready to marry under the age of 13? Answer: Are all girls at this age ready that law has been generalized to whole? The reform of the law means its existence and observing by majority people of society, and it does not mean that it prevents all girls from schooling and with allowance to spouse child, widowhood child, parental child, and increased mortality of mothers and infants. In many European countries, girls who are under the age of 18 years old have sexual intercourse and United Kingdom supports the child girls who have children to care for their children. According to the 2030 document titled AIDS education, sexual issues are educated for children in schools and kindergartens. Consider the same problems in cyberspace. At present time, uncontrolled Internet is available for people under the age of 18 in our country. Cyberspace has increased the variety of stimuli in society and the age of puberty has dropped dramatically. On the other hand, we face with increase in the age of marriage and the marriage age in the country has risen to over 30 years and 35 years. It is clear that this gap between the age of marriage and puberty can be problematic. Marriages at a younger age are more stable. On the other hand, our main problem is not marriage at an early age. Female parliament representatives report that 17 percent of registered marriages are related to marriages under the age of 18, but all of us know that statistics are not true. The main problem in our society is boys and girls who have passed the age of marriage and this is problem is tangible for all of us. Early marriage may be common in some regions. On the other hand, in these regions, as Sistan-Baluchistan, we see women’s considerable developments. For example, in the last year’s council elections, Sistan and Baluchestan had the highest number of women elected to the councils, indicating that the situation is not so that some people are deliberately trying to show. Following the release of this interview, step-by-step campaign to stop the marriage of children in Iran was conducted. An interview was performed with Secretary of the National Reference for the Rights of the Child, Mr. Mozaffar Alvandi, who criticized Ms. Ruhafza views:

His interview is interesting from several aspects.

۱-His excessive pessimism in international documents and linking an action against his ideas to UNESCO

۲-Reference to the increasing the age of marriage and the need to think about it and why we should allow that age of marriage increases, while no one opposes marriage in the right place and with the condition of detection power, and this should not be a place to justify the actions in contrast to child marriage law.

۳- If we consider marriage at least as one partnership contract in life between the two parties, satisfaction should be the initial condition, e while the most of the child marriages are without this condition.

۴-As an Islamic country, we need develop our laws consistent with our time requirements and do not be afraid of being coincidentally consistent to an international document. All intellectuals and experts now denounce the marriage of ten years old with a 30 years old man, while unfortunately, this happens in many parts of Iran and in the margins of the big cities.

۵-Even if an unconventional marriage occurs, in which the child’s basic rights, such as the right to health, right to choose, right to have fun, and right to education are lost, it should be prevented and the government and relevant authorities should take measures required.

۶-Honorable Parliament representatives who have passed through various filters to attend in parliament will never ignore the religious principles, since any law will be enforced only with the approval of the Guardian Council.

Some people are afraid of proposing and discussing on such basic and important issues. Alvandi adds that the positions of any government are reflected through drafting law and policies, and executive procedures. The law is required to monitor the implementation. However, if we want to know which approach or documents are used in one given country, is it against the law and formal instructions? There is sovereignty in each society, which must develop transparent to the relevant laws and regulations. Each marriage done by consent of the parties and observing some religious conditions is not necessarily  legal, unless its formalities are registered in official institutions, established in law. The head of the Iranian Pathology Society, Dr. Kourosh Mohammadi, also refers to the impact of cultural work and drafting of law as neutral and ineffective action. Such a position at such a level also suggests many cultural gaps, including correctly informing of the importance of law for executive authorities:

Trying to reduce the age of marriage is legally a futile and neutral process, since the dominant attitude in our society is very much influenced by economic and cultural factors and non-normal families face with many financial problems, despite the well-documented law in this area, they do not stop selling their children. Marriage is the only way through which they can make their actions legal. On the other hand, representatives tend to look for the weakness of the law elsewhere. Recently, one of the representatives of the Legal and Judicial Commission of the Parliament in an interview with the “House of the Nation” has stated that the violation of some marriage registration offices has resulted in an increase in the marriage of children, since real age of girls is not registered in some of these offices. In response to this criticism, the head of the State Property and Registration Office stated that the online registration system has been linked to marriage registration offices so that it would not be possible for people to declare their age higher unrealistically and register the marriage illegally. He also reported that all of those whose marriage has been reported under the legal age (13 years for girls and 15 years for boys) have had the court allowance.  The twelfth Government Department of Women and Family Affairs, begun its work recently, has taken a step forward in continuing the previous activities of the women’s affairs deputy, and it hold a meeting with Sunni Sheikhs on the prevention of early childhood marriage. Vice President of Women and Family Affairs, Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar, pointed out that in a meeting with the Sunni Sheikhs of Sistan and Baluchestan, great decisions were taken to prevent childhood marriages. In light of implementation of diverse cultural programs, it is possible to prevent the marriage of girls at early age, which Sunni Sheikhs of Sistan and Baluchistan have taken major steps in this regard.

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Holding the meeting by Ebtekar, vice president of the Iran’s president and Hashemi, the governor, with Abdolhamid as Friday prayer of Sunni people in Zahedan and other Sunni scholars in governor office

Accompanied by government and parliament, a meeting was hold with presence of representatives of the women’s fraction and the meeting of Dr. Dr. Shahindokht Molaverdi, Assistant Secretary of President in Citizens’ Rights Affairs and Ms. Dr. Liaya Jeneidi, Legal Assistant of president. Parvaneh Salahshouri, women’s parliamentary fraction on the achievements of the meeting stated that the long process of bureaucracy in the country is one the reasons to achieve a result on increasing the marriage age of girls, while complexity and sensitivities on cultural affairs has reduced the speed of process of reaching the result and it has forced us for accurate investigations. On one hand, child marriage is a problem for some people, on the other hand, it is considered obligatory for some people, and they may believe that this is marriage of girl, reached to the legal age and marriage at such a age should be included in the law. The head of women’s fraction has asked the view and opinion of jurisprudents and scholars in this regard to obtain their satisfaction, and some of them have had a positive opinion. With regard to legal issues, experts at the meeting emphasized that the minimum age of 15 for marriage of girls was more commonly known and it has existed in the first civil law of Iran. The Qom Islamic Research Center also stated that we can work on this age based on time and place conditions. It was also asked from the Parliament Research Center to extract information and provide it to Women’s Commission to find that “spouse child” phenomena is seen more in which regions of the country and what it its cause? In some cases, clerical and religious families insist that their daughters should marry soon. It was also found that poverty is a factor that forces the family to show tendency for marriage of their daughters at early age. According to experts, 9 outcomes and harms have been identified for early age marriages, which preventing from schooling and early pregnancy are some of these cases. Experts have stressed on the high rates of uterine cancer in young girls who were married at earl age and infertility, and they added: “Early sexual intercourse can have a direct impact on the quality of life of women and families, according to medical studies”. Fatwa of Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi suggests that “as far as a girl has not reached intellectual puberty and does not have the power to make decisions, she has no right to marry and I verdict that such marriage is void”. Finally, Parvaneh Salahshouri, the head of the women’s parliamentary fraction announced that another meeting will be held due to lack of time to discuss and exchange the views and make conclusion on this issue.

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Women fraction meeting was hold with presence of Dr. Molaverdi, Joneidi, and other experts in women area on the spouse child (increasing the minimum legal age of marriage)

According to the UNICEF definition of child marriage, every marriage, whether formal or informal, in which either party or both is under the age of 18, is considered as a child marriage and causes many problems and deprivations, so it is considered improper action. In many countries in world, the marriage of children under the legal age (18 years) is illegal and criminalized. However, the problem of child marriage has remained unresolved in Iran.  The statistics of the country’s birth registration organization show that nearly 420,000 girls were married under the age of 15 in Iran between 2004 and 2014. In addition, according to the latest statistics of UNICEF released in late days of the last year, 17% of Iranian girls were married under the age of 18 and 3% of them were married under the age of 15. Without doubt, the legal ban on child marriage will provide conditions to develop culture and social protection to expand the struggle for the rights of the child to areas of the country where child marriage has created much harm.

 

 

 

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