At least 30,000 girls forced into marriage in Iran every year, minister says

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At least 30,000 girls under the age of 14 are forcibly married every year in Iran, a senior government official said.

Iranian Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar on Sunday lambasted the government for not doing enough to curb the large number of child marriages in Iran, presenting the poignant statistic as proof of their frequency.

“In our opinion, reaching ‘intellectual maturity’ is enough for marriage,” she said, criticizing the government for having no solid plan to protect children from marriage.

“But, a person under the age of 13 is really a child, and if they are married, they would suffer many physical and psychological consequences,” she added, according to Radio Farda.

According to the Iranian news agency IRNA, Ebtekar said increasing marriage loans could inadvertently lead to more girls getting married.

A government bill to ban underage marriages was rejected by the Judicial Commission of the Islamic Consultative Assembly.

Earlier last year, a parliamentary motion to ban underage marriages was rejected by the Parliament’s Judiciary Committee, after pressure from conservative clerics.

Religious figures in Iran claim that underage girls are Islamically allowed to marry once at puberty, as long as their father blesses the marriage.

However, many scholars disagree with this argument saying that – by Islamic standards – a marriage can only be validated if it is approved by the bride. They argue that a girl who has reached puberty is still not mature enough to consent to marriage.

Forced marriage of minors is a global problem and affects girls and boys all over the world. Children forced into marriage often face more physical, emotional and sexual violence from their spouses, especially since many countries have not criminalized marital rape.

“Married girls and young women aged 15 to 19 with a low level of education are much more exposed to domestic and sexual violence from their spouses than older, more educated women,” a report said. by Human Rights Watch.

One of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September 2015 includes ending child marriage as a key goal by 2030 to advance gender equality.

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