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IRANIAN officials and activists warned today that the passage of a parliamentary Bill increasing marriage loans for women aged under 23 would lead to an increase in child brides.
MP Rahim Zare announced a rise in the budget for the loans from 50 million tomans to 70 million tomans, with boys under 25 and girls under 23 to receive 100 tomans each.
But Deputy Minister of Sports and Youth Mohammad Mehdi Tondgouyan argued that the law would increase “moral deviations” and encourage people to marry just to receive the money.
His ministry warned last year that increases in marriage loans in 2018 and 2019 caused more marriages involving children under 15.
The minimum legal age of marriage is 13 for girls and 15 for boys.
“Two-thirds of the applicants for these loans were young women under 18 years and this is tantamount to forced marriages,” Mr Tondgouyan said.
Children’s rights activist Tita Ghozati agreed, saying: “The proportion of early marriages is usually higher in non-urban and poverty-stricken areas.
“This shows that cultural changes and improvement in economic and social education will lower child marriages.”
According to statistics, 7,000 girls under 14 years of age had weddings between March and May last year.
But the clerical regime has refused to consider raising the age threshold for marriage.
MP Hassan Nourozi opposes such measures, insisting that according to sharia law, Qom jurisprudence and Iranian experts, a girl enters puberty at the age of nine and can be considered fit to marry.
Child marriage causes a range of problems, including child pregnancy, death in childbirth, depression and sometimes suicide. The United Nations describes it as a fundamental violation of human rights.
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