A parliamentary motion banning child marriage in Iran has been rejected by Majles (parliament), an MP reported.
A member of women's faction in the Islamic Republic's parliament, Tayyebeh Seyavoshi says, "The Legal and Judicial Commission of Majles has rejected a parliamentary motion that proposed a ban on allowing under thirteen-year-old girls to marry."
Following the rejection, Ms. Seyavoshi says, "We are waiting for the Commission's official report, and then, decide on our next step."
According to a member of the Legal and Judicial commission, Yahya Kamalpour, the motion was rejected after Grand Ayatollahs and sources of emulation" vehemently opposed it.
Without referring to a time frame, Ms. Seyavoshi announced that more than 300 girls under nine, and between 30,000 to 40,000 girls under 13-14 years old marry in Iran.
Earlier on December 4, a prominent member of the Islamic Republic's Cultural and Social Council for Women had defended child marriage, arguing it protects girls from a life of prostitution and illegal abortions.
Fereshteh Rouhafza had told the state-run Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA) on December 4, that in light of the rapidly growing number of increasingly young girls undergoing illegal abortions and joining the sex trade, “opposition to child marriage is wrong.”
Rouhafza, who is in charge of planning and policy for the council, declined to provide evidence of her claims about Iran’s young women, saying the statistics are available, but it would be irresponsible to make them public.
"Publishing the statistics will encourage other underage girls to follow suit. I believe revealing such statistics is harmful to society,” Rouhafza said.
Rohafza’s comments reflect the position of the conservative clerical establishment toward child marriage. Insisting that Prophet Muhammad is the perfect example for all Muslims, they note that he married a six-year-old bride, Aisha, with whom he consummated the marriage when she was only nine years old.
According to Iran’s Association of Children’s Rights, the number of girls married in Iran under the age of 15 climbed from 33,383 in 2006 to 43,459 in 2009, a 30 percent increase in three years. Experts say the increase is due to deepening poverty and parents’ desire to control their daughter’s sexuality.
The Islamic Republic’s civil code stipulates that the legal age of marriage in Iran is thirteen for girls and fifteen for boys. However, the civil code allows girls as young as nine to marry with the consent of their father or the permission of a judge.