When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!
Society

Iran Registers Record Number Of Child Brides

Numbers are rising of girls aged 14 and under getting married, as well as births from very young mothers.

A photo of people walking past a bridal shop

A bridal shop in Tehran

Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua via ZUMA

Nearly 10,000 girls aged 10 to 14 years were married off in Iran in the first months of 2021, the highest recorded rate of child brides for a country already criticized for limiting the freedoms of women and girls.


Iran's Statistics Organization counted 9,753 weddings with girls in that age group in the first quarter of the Persian year that began on March 21, 2021, reported Radio Farda, the Persian-language broadcaster in Prague. The organization also counted 791 births from mothers in that group in the first semester of the Persian year.

Youth marriage as way to boost birth rates

For the first quarter, Iran registered just over 45,500 weddings of girls aged 15 to 19 years. Radio Farda observed that Iran's Islamic laws consider girls to be mature at the age of 9, and boys at the age of 15, even if officials generally discourage marriage of girls aged younger than 13.

Iran's clerical regime forbids informal sexual relationships and encourages young people to marry as soon as they can. More conservative elements are also pushing for more procreation in a plan to rejuvenate the population, which is believed to have the Iranian Supreme leader's explicit backing.

Radio Farda observed that underage marriages had increased in recent years and their real figures likely "far" exceed those given by the Statistics Organization.

In the face of international objections, the state has made half-hearted attempts to curb the practice. A parliamentary bill from 2017 or 2018 to ban marriage by girls under 16 and boys under 18 was voted down in the face of objections from senior clerical figures.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest