The Sunday before Iranian president Hassan Rouhani delivered his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, his country’s parliament passed a bill to protect the rights of children that contains a clause that, certainly to those of us in the Wesrt, does the exact opposite. Under the new law, a man can marry his own adopted daughter, who may be as young as 13.
That is, a man would essentially, and legally, be able to marry his own child.
Under the clause, the caretaker of an adopted child would be allowed to marry her or him, provided that a court ruled that such was in the interests of the child.
At present, girls as young as 13 in Iran can marry so long as they have permission of their father; girls who are younger than that can marry with the permission of a judge. Boys can marry at 15, which is also the age at which they can be held responsible for criminal misconduct (it is 15 for girls).
“It’s not part of the Iranian culture to marry your adopted child. Obviously incest exists in Iran more or less as it happens in other countries across the world, but this bill is legalising pedophilia and is endangering our children and normalising this crime in our culture.”
“You should not be able to marry your adopted children, full stop. If a father marries his adopted daughter who is a minor and has sex, that’s rape.”
Sadr says that some lawmakers have been downplaying “the sexual part of such marriages” and instead focusing on how the bill can address concerns about complications surrounding the wearing of the hijab when a child is adopted. An adopted daughter is expected to wear the hijab in front of her father, and a mother should wear it in front of her adopted son if he is old enough, according to Sadr.
Shiva Dolatabadi, head of Iran’s society for protecting children’s rights, also points out that the bill implies that Iran’s parliament condones incest.
The Guardian Council, the body of clerics and jurists who examines all bills in reference to the country’s constitution and to Islamic law, has not yet ruled on the new law. Sadr says that the current bill is likely to be approved as an earlier version, in which marriage with adopted children was completely banned, was rejected by the council. Some members of Iran’s Parliament may have introduced the clause about the marriage of children to their adopted fathers to satisfy the jurists and clergymen, she comments.
After Rouhani’s visit to the U.S., Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed support for the new president’s diplomatic outreach but also said that some of his actions were “inappropriate.” One political strategist said this statement referred to Rouhani’s phone call with President Barack Obama after the U.N. Such reports as well as the new law allowing the marriage of adopted girls with their fathers are signs that opening Iran to outside influences is likely to occur slowly and surely with many setbacks.
How can a government’s Parliament in effect allow incest to be legal?
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