Young Iranians replacing marriage, mullahs not happy

In Iran, which has been under strict rule of sharia law ever since the thuggish revolt, better known as the Islamic Revolution of 1979, men and women who aren't related can't even legally shake hands or be seen in public together.  Now, in 2018, many young Iranian couples are opting to live together without tying the knot, and that represents a 180-degree turn in a country that enforces strict sharia law.  Cohabitation in Iran is now called "white marriage."

What has instigated "white marriage," where men and women cohabit without a formal commitment or anxiety of social and religious stigma, or its political concerns?  There are some pragmatic motivations:

Severe economic difficulties, unemployment, rising poverty, political and social uncertainties, the internet, and social media have helped further escalation of a situation that has led to a significant decline in marriage and a sharp rise in divorce.  

Another reason for the popularity of cohabitation is mehrieh, or dower, the sum men agree to pay when they get married in case of a divorce – in other words, a security fund for women in case they end up in a divorce.  The sum is usually way too large, such that men either end up in debt for the rest of their lives or must go to prison.

Perhaps another reason Iranian women prefer this style of living is the uneven nature of Iranian marriage contracts between men and women.  In Iran's current law, "most of the conditions contained in marriage contracts are in favor of men" (of course, because Islam discriminates against women), who can control their wives' travel, employment, and education.  If a married couple separates, men have more divorce rights than women.  By cohabiting, couples may experience a greater sense of equality in their relationship.

The current Iranian generation are much less religious and traditional than their own parents.  Even though they are not world travelers, their easy access to the internet has opened their eyes to Western culture, and they enjoy the freedom it offers.

Sex outside marriage is a crime under Iran's sharia-based laws, punishable by flogging or other Islamic punishment.  In cases of adultery, it can carry a sentence of death by stoning.

According to the Iranian media, around 20% or more of marriages in Iran will end in divorce, mainly because of economic hardship, adultery, and drug addiction.

According to Farhad Aghtar, director general of the Office of Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment, which is part of Iran's State Welfare Organization, one in five marriages in Iran ends in divorce.  Tehran, the capital, has the highest rate in the country.

While disapproving of cohabitation, Iran allows the traditional Shia temporary marriage, or "sigheh," under which a couple can contract a marriage lasting anywhere from a few minutes to 99 years.

Despite Iran's strict Islamic laws, increasing numbers of young couples are choosing to cohabit before marriage.  It has become so prevalent that the office of the supreme leader has issued a statement expressing deep disapproval, as BBC Persian's Rana Rahimpour reports.

"It's shameful for a man and a woman to live together without being married," the statement said.  "It won't take long for people who've chosen this lifestyle to have wiped out a legitimate generation with an illegitimate one."  Young Iranians do not seem to be listening.  They complain that it is too expensive to get married.

"Many observers point to Iran's soaring divorce rates as a key reason why some couples do not want to rush into marriage – and why their families often agree with them."

While the Islamic regime is aware of "illegal cohabitations," it has been unable to stop the growing trend, and no serious action has been taken to prevent this cohabitation, or "white marriage," other than criticism.

The ruling party currently has more important issues to deal with than to worry about cohabitation.  Under the rule of these adherents of death, everything in Iran is deteriorating and dying.  The current situation in Iran is indeed dire.

In Iran, which has been under strict rule of sharia law ever since the thuggish revolt, better known as the Islamic Revolution of 1979, men and women who aren't related can't even legally shake hands or be seen in public together.  Now, in 2018, many young Iranian couples are opting to live together without tying the knot, and that represents a 180-degree turn in a country that enforces strict sharia law.  Cohabitation in Iran is now called "white marriage."

What has instigated "white marriage," where men and women cohabit without a formal commitment or anxiety of social and religious stigma, or its political concerns?  There are some pragmatic motivations:

Severe economic difficulties, unemployment, rising poverty, political and social uncertainties, the internet, and social media have helped further escalation of a situation that has led to a significant decline in marriage and a sharp rise in divorce.  

Another reason for the popularity of cohabitation is mehrieh, or dower, the sum men agree to pay when they get married in case of a divorce – in other words, a security fund for women in case they end up in a divorce.  The sum is usually way too large, such that men either end up in debt for the rest of their lives or must go to prison.

Perhaps another reason Iranian women prefer this style of living is the uneven nature of Iranian marriage contracts between men and women.  In Iran's current law, "most of the conditions contained in marriage contracts are in favor of men" (of course, because Islam discriminates against women), who can control their wives' travel, employment, and education.  If a married couple separates, men have more divorce rights than women.  By cohabiting, couples may experience a greater sense of equality in their relationship.

The current Iranian generation are much less religious and traditional than their own parents.  Even though they are not world travelers, their easy access to the internet has opened their eyes to Western culture, and they enjoy the freedom it offers.

Sex outside marriage is a crime under Iran's sharia-based laws, punishable by flogging or other Islamic punishment.  In cases of adultery, it can carry a sentence of death by stoning.

According to the Iranian media, around 20% or more of marriages in Iran will end in divorce, mainly because of economic hardship, adultery, and drug addiction.

According to Farhad Aghtar, director general of the Office of Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment, which is part of Iran's State Welfare Organization, one in five marriages in Iran ends in divorce.  Tehran, the capital, has the highest rate in the country.

While disapproving of cohabitation, Iran allows the traditional Shia temporary marriage, or "sigheh," under which a couple can contract a marriage lasting anywhere from a few minutes to 99 years.

Despite Iran's strict Islamic laws, increasing numbers of young couples are choosing to cohabit before marriage.  It has become so prevalent that the office of the supreme leader has issued a statement expressing deep disapproval, as BBC Persian's Rana Rahimpour reports.

"It's shameful for a man and a woman to live together without being married," the statement said.  "It won't take long for people who've chosen this lifestyle to have wiped out a legitimate generation with an illegitimate one."  Young Iranians do not seem to be listening.  They complain that it is too expensive to get married.

"Many observers point to Iran's soaring divorce rates as a key reason why some couples do not want to rush into marriage – and why their families often agree with them."

While the Islamic regime is aware of "illegal cohabitations," it has been unable to stop the growing trend, and no serious action has been taken to prevent this cohabitation, or "white marriage," other than criticism.

The ruling party currently has more important issues to deal with than to worry about cohabitation.  Under the rule of these adherents of death, everything in Iran is deteriorating and dying.  The current situation in Iran is indeed dire.