Rayehe Mozafarian and Samire Hanayi
The door is open; a brownish old Iron door. The house is hot in sunlight. The guide comes home ahead of us. The house is big and old. It is one of those old buildings. The wind has scattered the clothes on the dirt floor of the house yard. The fridge makes noise in the cellar at the other side of the house. Green wooden windows sometimes play in the wind. The guide calls me to enter the house. We go ahead. The iron door of the room opens. A little girl smiles at us with a shame from the dark background of the room. We enter the room. With dismay, the clutches the snacks on the ground and puts them in a corner. Her friend smiles with constant embarrassment. The guide explains that we are going to ask a few questions. I smile at her in response to her smile. Her beauty is stunning. She has large blue eyes, a white oval face with special brightness and long golden hair covered under local chador. Her delicate hands and fingers, her red nail varnish and marriage ring grab the attention. My camera and I do not get tired of watching.
She has just finished her middle school and she is going to high school next year but their village does not have high school, so she should go to another city. She likes design and painting, and intends to become a graphic artist. I ask about her husband’s job. He is a university student but she does not know his field of study, her friend points to her from the other side of the room and tells her stealthily that she is wrong. He sees his wife very little. We ask her why did she marry. She just laughs; she does not have an answer. She married one year ago and hopes to grow up and her husband graduates and provides the facilities of a good life for her.
According to the available statistics in 2016, the number of marriages registered by population and housing statistics in 2016 is presented in the table below. The Population and Housing Census of 2016 indicates that 36,261 men aged 10 to 14 years and 66,250 men aged 15 to 19 years have married at least once. According to this census, by 2016, 37448 women aged 10 to 14 years old and 573468 women aged 15-19 years old had married at least once.
But these numbers are not only for the married children. According to the similar five-year-old tables, it is possible to accurately estimate the statistics of widowed and divorced children. The statistics help to distinguish between widows and divorced children.
In most dictionaries, divorced is defined as someone who is separated from her husband and widowed as someone whose husband has died, so separate statistics allows the two categories to be defined and measured separately. A woman or man whose spouse has died after marriage is called widowed or widower.
By the 2016, 383 men aged 10 to 14 years oldand 512men aged 15 to 19 years old has been registered as widowers.The figure for women in the same year was 226 and 1194, respectively, indicating that by 2016, there were 609 widows under 15 years old and 1706 widows aged 15-19 years old in Iran..
For divorced children, statistics show that by 2016, 1310 men aged 10 to 14 years old, and 1978 men aged 15 to 19 years old were separated from their wives. Similarly, for women aged 10 to 14 years, 598 divorces were recorded and 10614 cases of divorce were recorded for women aged 15 to 19 years old until this year.
Along with the release of various figures every year and various reports, the current status of the law on children’s marriage is confined to a series of uncertainties. The members of parliament recently tried to slightly change article 1041 and to slightly increase the minimum age for marriage but it should be noted that the change is very slight because like the past, the guardian’s leave and court permission provide the chance of such marriage for the families. It is currently not possible to change the law, but under current law, the minimum age defined for marriage is 13 for girls and 15 for boys with no need to refer to the court. However, referral to the court, according to the figures provided has shown that it has not been possible to obstruct such a path.
Only four countries in the international community (Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Gambia and Sudan) have not specified the minimum age for marriage, and Iran has accepted 13 years of age as the lowest age for marriage of girls, after Guinea (13 years). The lowest age in other countries, such as Mozambique, Madagascar, Venezuela and Bolivia, is 14 years old. Therefore, it seems that the situation in Iran is not very different with those countries that have not specified the minimum age for marriage.