Anorak | Is Iran really seeking to marry girls as young as 10?

Is Iran really seeking to marry girls as young as 10?

by | 31st, August 2012

ROBERT Tait reports in the  Daily Telegraph   of children getting married in Iran.

…A fundamentalist MP, Mohammad Ali Asfenani, has said Iran has a religious obligation to legally recognise the weddings of girls as young as nine.

“As some people may not comply with our current Islamic legal system, we must regard nine as being the appropriate age for a girl to have reached puberty and qualified to get married,” Mr Asfenani, chairman of the parliamentary legal and judiciary committee, told Khabar Online. “To do otherwise would be to contradict and challenge Islamic Sharia law.”

So. It’s a “fundamentalist” Muslim issue? The International Center for Research on Women produced a brochure entitled  Too Young to Wed: The Lives, Rights, and Health of Young Married Girls :

Worldwide, there are more than 51 million adolescent girls aged 15–19 who are married and bearing the burden of domestic responsibility and the risks associated with early sexual activity, including pregnancy… Rates of early marriage are highest in West Africa, South Asia, and East and Central Africa, where approximately 30 percent or more of girls aged 15–19 are already married. Rates are also relatively high, but more moderate, in Central America and the Caribbean, where 20 percent of girls aged 15–19 are married, compared to 2–4 percent in North America, East Asia, and Western Europe.

The  Demographic and Health Surveys  were conducted in the corresponding country:

…It is difficult to obtain data on marital status or age at marriage among adolescents aged 10–14 because of the legal norms surrounding marriage and the fact that official statistics do not document illegal behavior; in some societies, the proportions of girls who are married when they are younger than 15 may not be insignificant.

Hurry Up Harry looks at a report from  2009 :

…Marriage to a pre-pubescant child with whom consummation occurs upon reaching puberty is not a model most people would be happy with in the modern world (although Bolivia sets the age of consent at puberty).

Which is probably why nearly all Muslim countries have reformed these rules beyond recognition. The age of consent in Algeria and Malaysia is 16, in Indonesia it is 19 for males and 16 for females. In Egypt it’s 18 for both and Tunisia 20. Reform has not, however, come to Saudi Arabia. Back in April the world followed the case of a mother trying to obtain a divorce for her eight-year-old daughter who had been married off by her father to a friend he owed a debt. In the end she succeeded and now there is even talk of Saudi Arabia preventing marriage before the age of 18.

Women Living Under Muslim Laws Solidarity Network looks at the data from Iran. Tait wrote:

An Iranian NGO, the Society For Protecting The Rights of The Child, said 43,459 girls aged under 15 had married in 2009, compared with 33,383 three years previously. In 2010, 716 girls younger than 10 had wed, up from 449 the previous year, according to the organisation.

The women’s group responds :

Dear all,

Recently, a petition generated by claiming that the “Iranian government is legalizing marriage for under 10-year olds” has been spreading widely. I would like to bring it to your attention that the petition is neither accurate nor credible. Our trusted Iranian

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Posted: 31st, August 2012 | In: News Comments (4) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink