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