TEHRAN — Iranian officials may restrict publication of the country's latest divorce statistics so as not to distress the public, which has long been taught that early and lasting matrimony is a key to social harmony.
"There have already been enough divorce statistics. Citing more won't solve the problems," Ali Akbar Mahzun, of the demographics department at the national registration office, was quoted as saying in the Tehran-based reformist daily Arman-e Emrooz.
Kurosh Mohammadi, an expert in social problems, told Arman that restricting figures would only undermine trust in the authorities and hamper the country's response to what public bodies are effectively considering a social ill, not unlike crime and vices.
Another newspaper, Shargh, reported that the move would be technically illegal given existing access-to-information laws. Hiding the numbers would also contradict President Hassan Rohani's promise to boost civic rights and transparency.
Mahzun, the registration official, later tried to clarify his statement, telling Shargh that he doesn't want to keep the divorce figures a secret, per se, but thinks they should be available only on a need-to-know basis. Access, in other words, should be restricted to government offices and government-approved researchers — not the press.