When I was in fifth grade, two of my classmates got married on the playground at recess. We were 10 years old. The wedding was long forgotten the next day as we were just kids playing a game, but in Iran, underage marriage is not a game. It’s a reality.
The Iranian Parliament recently issued a statement saying they regard the country’s law prohibiting marriage for girls under 10 years old as “un-Islamic and illegal.”
As such, girls as young as nine would be permitted – and in reality forced – to marry men much older than them.
“We must regard nine as being the appropriate age for a girl to have reached puberty and qualified to get married,” said Parliament member Mohammad Ali Isfenani.
Forcing girls to marry at such a young age carries many serious consequences.
A 9-year-old girl is not physically or emotionally ready to start in engaging in sexual activity, not to mention carrying a child. If a young girl does become pregnant, her health risks increase dramatically. In fact, girls under 15 years old are five times more likely to die during childbirth.
Forcing a girl to marry a man much older than her would thus effectively legalize sex between a minor and adult man and endanger a girl’s health and safety.
Marrying at such a young age also robs a girl of her chance to a full education with the added burden of household and family responsibilities.
Nine-year-old girls should be spending their time in school learning, not having sex, managing a household, or taking care of children.
Join members on Care2 in asking the Iranian Parliament to put an end to child marriage by signing the “Iran: Don’t Legalize Marriage for Girls Under 10!” petition.
Over the summer, 75 girls under 10 years old have been forced to marry men much older than them. How many more girls need to suffer before child marriage is taken seriously?
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Photo by Corrie Barklimore used under a Creative Commons license.