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Iran

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
3%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
17%

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

Photo credit: DFID

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
3%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
17%

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?

17% of girls in Iran are married before the age of 18 and 3% are married before the age of 15.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran reports that about 40,635 marriages of girls under 15 years of age were registered between 2012 and 2013, of which more than 8,000 involved men who were at least ten years older.

According to a member of the Judicial and Legal Commission of the Iranian Parliament, thousands of children get married unofficially without registration, and in many cases, a girl’s actual age is not correctly recorded.

Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys. In Iran, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Religion: Sharia-based Iranian law states that the legal age for marriage is 13 for girls and 15 for boys, but marriages can still be carried out at a younger age with the consent of fathers and permission from court judges. This has enabled a culture whereby child marriage is considered somewhat socially acceptable.
  • Poverty: Some families marry off their daughters in exchange for money or a house. This has led to the perception that girls are commodities in a deal. A girl’s beauty is considered to be important in determining how high her bride price is.
  • Traditional customs: Blood marriages are reportedly still practiced in tribal areas, and involve a girl being married off in order to resolve a feud between two tribes. Naval string marriages involve a girl being “pledged” to marry a cousin or distant relative when she is born through a symbolic cutting of the umbilical cord.

What has this country committed to?

Iran has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Iran ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, but made reservation to articles and provisions which may be contrary to the Islamic Sharia law. Iran is one of few countries that has not signed or ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

During its 2014 Universal Periodic Review, Iran agreed to examine recommendations to abolish laws encouraging the marriage of girls as young as nine, and to amend the Civil Code to bring the minimum age for marriage to 18 years old.

What is the government doing to address this at the national level?

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Civil Code 2007, marriage “before the age of majority” is prohibited. However the age of majority is 9 lunar years (8 years and 9 months) for girls and 15 lunar years for boys.

Members of the Cultural Commission of Iran have advocated for religious scholars to amend article 1041 of the Civil Code on Marriage Age so that legal authorities can have greater power over deciding whether child marriages can go ahead.

Source

Center for Human Rights in Iran, Over 40,000 girls under age 15 married each year in Iran, [website], 2015, (accessed March 2018)

Iran Focus, Iran: Children between 12 and 15 forced into Marriage, [website], 2016, (accessed March 2018)

UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2017,
(accessed February 2018)

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Islamic Republic of Iran, 2014, p.22, (accessed March 2018)

United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2018)

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)