According to the latest study by the Statistics Center of Iran, in the spring of 1400, the marriage of girls aged 10 to 14 has increased by about 32%. What makes this news even more painful is that this statistic only applies to marriages registered with the Civil Registry Office. According to experts, the real rate of child marriage in Iran is at least three times the official statistics. In many traditional societies, the child of the spouse prevents the formation of sweet childhood experiences. Do you know what is the legal age of marriage in Iran? What is the status of child-spouse in Iranian laws and regulations? Is there enough executive guarantee in our country to deal with this social problem? We will answer these questions below.
What are the reasons for a child being married in Iran?
Child-wife is not a new issue in our country. In the past, early marriage was not only forbidden, but also a value. Today, the phenomenon of child marriage in Iran has two main reasons, which we have discussed below.
1. Tough economic conditions
Today, the number of families who agree to marry their children for a fee has increased. Some families are also willing to allow their children to get married at an early age.
۲. False culture and beliefs about early marriage
In towns and villages with a traditional cultural atmosphere, it is still believed that marriage is better at an early age. There are many who say: “Our elders got married at a young age and nothing bad happened!” Traditional thinking prevails in these places, a thought that is rooted in old beliefs and cannot be easily changed.
What are the consequences of having a spouse?
There are two different views on child marriage; Some believe that marriage at an early age is not only okay, but also provides an opportunity for individuals to grow according to traditional customs and culture. In contrast, social experts believe that the child of a spouse is an important and risky problem. The most important consequences of a spouse child are:
- Creating physical and psychological problems for couples and increasing the prevalence of mental disorders in society;
- Prevalence of depression in children who are married early;
- Increased abortion rate and rising mortality rate of adolescent mothers;
- The growing poverty and deteriorating economic situation of families resulting from such marriages;
- Increase in domestic violence and child sexual abuse;
- Increasing the rate of emotional and definite divorces in society;
- Increase in the number of children without birth certificates due to the lack of legal registration of such marriages;
- Increasing dropout rates of children forced into marriage and the spread of illiteracy.
Legal age of marriage in Iran
According to Article 1041 of the Civil Code, the legal age of marriage is 13 for girls and 15 for boys. Accordingly, marriage at a younger age will be defined as the child of a spouse. Of course, the issue does not end here, and Article 1041 stipulates that marriage under the age of 13 and 15 must be authorized by a competent court with the permission of the legal guardian and in the best interests of the child. In other words, marriage before reaching the ages stated in the law has three main conditions:
1. Permission of the child’s legal guardian
According to Article 1180 of the Civil Code, the guardians of the child are the father or paternal grandfather. In fact, in order for a minor to marry, his father must consent. If his father is not alive, this duty is the responsibility of his grandfather or paternal grandfather.
۲. Observe the best interests of the child
The second condition for the marriage of children is the observance of their interests. In other words, it remains to be seen whether early marriage is in one’s best interest.
3. Competence of the competent court
This condition is actually the most important condition for confirming the marriage of people at a younger age. The competent court to determine the best interests of children is the family court.
The effect of the conditions of Article 1041 of the Civil Code on the situation of a child spouse in Iran
From the terms of Article 1041 of the Civil Code, it can be concluded that according to Iranian law, child marriage is not strictly prohibited. The problem starts from the fact that this article of the law provides conditions for child marriage, and each of these conditions may be the source of many problems. The exact meaning of “child interest” referred to in this article is unclear. On the other hand, there is no criterion for recognizing this expediency. The best interests of the child may be affected by a number of factors. The child’s parents may, under the influence of various factors such as marital status, cultural status, economic circumstances, recognize that marriage is in their best interest. The courts usually consider four criteria for determining the best interests of children:
- His physical and mental maturity;
- The child’s satisfaction and awareness of what is happening;
- The competence of the person with whom the child marries;
- The child’s legal guardian reasons for his marriage.
Of course, it is not easy to identify these issues in court. The results of various studies show that in courts, the physical maturity of the child and his / her legal guardianship are often considered and usually little attention is paid to his / her intellectual maturity and mental condition. Examination of the relevant cases reveals that most of the time, the child is not satisfied with the marriage or is not at all aware of what is happening. In order to determine the competence of the other party, only issues such as his age, level of education and income are considered. Also, in different cases, the reasons of the guardian of the child are not examined and as soon as he consents is enough.
In addition, another issue is emerging, according to child rights experts. Some families secretly remarry their child, and after the child reaches the legal age, they go to the family court and ask the court for confirmation, citing that the marriage is completely legal.
All these issues together have made the child of a spouse still prevalent in Iran, and the conditions set for marriage at an early age, for the reasons mentioned, still have no effect on reducing the marriage rate of children.
Executive guarantee against child mate in Iranian law
From what has been said, it can be concluded that in the Iranian legal system, efforts have been made to reduce child marriage before the legal age of marriage. Article 1041 of the Civil Code is the most important legal provision in this regard. In this article, there is no executive guarantee to deal with those who do not comply with the above conditions. Of course, Article 50 of the Family Protection Law states:
“If a man marries in violation of the provisions of Article 1041 of the Civil Code, he will be sentenced to sixth degree imprisonment. If the marriage leads to a situation leading to disability or permanent illness of the wife, the husband will be sentenced to fifth degree imprisonment in addition to paying diyat, and if it leads to a situation leading to the death of the wife, the husband will be sentenced to fourth degree imprisonment in addition to paying diyat.
Note: Whenever a compulsory guardian, mother, legal guardian or person in charge of the maintenance and care of the wife has a direct effect on the commission of the crime subject to this article, they shall be sentenced to sixth degree imprisonment. “This sentence is also prescribed for the contractor.”
Fourth degree imprisonment means imprisonment for more than 5 to 10 years. Imprisonment is five times higher than imprisonment for more than 2 to 5 years. Sixth degree imprisonment also means imprisonment for more than 6 months to 2 years.
Therefore, if a child enters into another marriage without the permission of the court, all those involved in it will be punished. If this causes bodily harm or death to the child, the punishment will be more severe. However, this law does not mention other harms caused by this issue.
A spouse does not always lead to a disability, illness or death of a child, but what is the fate of children who have remarried and suffered psychological damage? What is the solution to dealing with people who have suffered less physical injuries than disability? It seems that the laws regarding the child of the spouse are still not comprehensive and complete.
Experts suggest to deal with the spouse child
Child rights experts have proposed various strategies to reduce the rate of spousal children in Iran, and we have outlined two main strategies below.
1. Educate families and strive to raise their awareness
In this regard, the role of institutions active in the field of child rights is important. It is the duty of such institutions to hold conferences, workshops, and to produce and disseminate educational programs through the mass media. In this way, families can be informed about the consequences of having a spouse.
۲. Amend the rules
As mentioned, Iranian law tries to deal with the child of the spouse, but these laws are not enough to prevent the child of the spouse. There is still ambiguity in many cases, such as the criteria for determining the best interests of children. The enforceable guarantees provided are also insufficient to deal with the physical and psychological harm caused to the child by the spouse. As a result, legal institutions can play a more effective role in this area by amending laws and overseeing their compliance.
The child of a spouse in Iran is rooted in many issues. Various factors such as cultural poverty and lack of proper education about the age of marriage increase the number of children and spouses. On the other hand, unfavorable economic conditions also contribute to this issue. There are many families who force their children to get married in exchange for money. Although the child of a spouse is considered in Iranian law, this attention is not enough.