During the past three months, more than 7,000 girls under the age of 14 were recorded as married, according to the Iran Statistics Centre’s quarterly report.
In this report, published on November 30, it was stated that 7,323 girls aged 10 to 14 are registered as married, with one girl married before she turned 10. It further stated that some 130,000 girls under 14 were married between 2016 and 2019, which works out at roughly 43,300 marriages involving underage girls each year.
According to a member of the Cultural Association in Support of Working Children Mohammad Bonyazadeh, the number of child wives in Iran was nearly one million in July 2010. “Official sources put the number of child spouses in the country at between 900,000 to 950,000. This violates the international Convention on the Rights of the Child,” the semi-official ILNA news agency quoted him as saying on July 1.
This does not take into account unregistered marriages and should be considered a minimum due to the government’s secrecy over statistics that make them look bad.
Child marriage, which should also include the thousands of Iranian girls aged 14-18 who are married off each year, causes lasting physical and psychological harm to the minors involved, especially those who become pregnant while underage. Here, we will list just a few:
- depression and suicide attempts
- education deprivation
- early pregnancy-related injuries and deaths
- poverty continuation
Iranian Deputy Minister of Sports and Youth Mohammad Mehditandgouyan has said that the government has seen an increased number of underage girls applying for marriage loans.
“In recent years, two-thirds of the loan requestees have been underage girls, and this is at times associated with forced marriages,” he said.
While the head of the Women and Family Affairs Department in Markazi province, Zahra Kasayipour, said that in the past six months alone 109 girls aged 14 or under were registered as married, with another 109 underage girls becoming pregnant. She went on to say that 1,157 girls under 18 became pregnant from 2017 to 2019, with 1,055 girls under 15 becoming pregnant from 2016 to 2019.
The Statistic Centre also reports that between 2011 and 2015, there were 95,000 divorces involving women under 19, with 5,760 of them related to marriages involving someone aged 14 or younger.
Child rights activists, worried about increasing rates of marriage for underage girls, highlighted that this will harm the future health of Iranian society and showcases widespread disaster.
The marriage age of 15 for girls is decided by the average “sexual maturity”, although it should be noted that this just means that menstruation has begun. It does not take into account the kind of physical or emotional maturity required to consent to marriage, the kind that only comes from being allowed to finish your childhood in school and surrounded by your peers and not from being married off to a much older man.