Forced marriages in Iran are among the leading causes of the increase in suicide among women and girls.
Forced and early marriages are common examples of violence against women.
Teenage girls who were forced into marriage sometimes set themselves on fire in rural areas.
Among other Iranian provinces, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, and Ilam have the highest suicide rates. Forced and early marriage among girls is also very common in these provinces.
The minimum legal age for girls to marry in Iran is 13. A girl under the age of 13 can also sit at the wedding table with her father’s permission, as well as that of a judge. These marriages are forced by the girl’s father or family.
Forced marriages in Iran, exacerbated by poverty, pave the way for women to commit suicide. In some of these cases, girls under the age of 13 are forced to marry men as old as 50. In these forced situations, many girls feel they have no alternative but to commit suicide.
Brides commit suicide over forced marriages in Iran
On April 16, a 17-year-old child bride self-immolated and passed away in Gonbad Kavus, northern Iran after her baby died. The girl was identified as Behnaz G. She got married when she was 15 years old and gave birth to a child last year. The three-month-old baby died in an accident. After that, she became deeply depressed.
On March 24, a 15-year-old girl committed suicide in Taybad city, located in Khorasan Razavi province. The girl was the victim of child marriage. Javad Afereidon, the public relations manager of the city’s health network, announced that the young girl had recently gotten married and committed suicide by ingesting rice pills (aluminum phosphide) (the state-run ISNA News Agency – March 24, 2021).
On March 18, a 20-year-old woman identified as Sahar Fakheri, killed herself in Boyer-Ahmad County, southwestern Iran because she was being forced to marry her cousin. Once she was alone at home, she killed herself with a hunting rifle.
On January 23, 2021, Anahita Shahidi, an 18-year-old from Sepidar village, Yasuj city, committed suicide due to her opposition to forced marriage. Anahita’s family wanted to force her to marry her cousin. She committed suicide while alone at home.
Four-fold increase in child marriages in one year
Based on the figures released on January 31, 2021, by the National Statics Center of Iran, 7323 marriages of girls between 10-14 years of age were registered in spring 2020. Another 9058 marriages of the same age group were registered in summer 2020. (The state-run Tabnak website, February 5, 2021)
The 16381 marriages of girls under 15 years registered in six months in 2020 shows a 23% increase from spring to summer and a 2% increase compared to the same period last year. This means that 100 marriages of girls under 15 are registered every 24 hours. (The state-run ISNA news agency – February 5, 2021)
The NSC has also registered 364 childbirths to mothers under 15 years of age in summer 2020.
Razavi Khorassan, East Azerbaijan, Sistan and Baluchestan, and Khuzestan are the top four provinces in Iran for children marriages under 13 years of age. Tehran Province sits on the eighth rank.
“There are statistics that children under the age of 15, especially girls under this age, have used this loan, and this number has quadrupled compared to last year,” said Mohammad Mehdi Tondgooyan, Deputy Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs (The state-run ISNA News Agency – December 10, 2019).
The increases in child marriages in Iran are directly related to the growing poverty of the Iranian people. The painful result for girls is that marriage loans are used to trade girls under 15!
An 11-year-old girl in Bushehr was forced to marry a 90-year-old man in exchange for 21 million Tomans or $458 paid to her family (The state-run Hamshahrionline.ir, June 16, 2020).
Consequences of child and forced marriages in Iran
Child marriages have dire consequences for child brides including child pregnancy, death from childbirth, depression, and sometimes suicide in addition to divorce and lack of education.
The UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child has banned child marriages.
Child marriage or marriage without the free and full consent of both spouses is a human rights violation and is not in line with several international agreements including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage, and Registration of Marriage. According to UNICEF, around 39,000 girls under 18 marry every day around the world.