Iranian Men Could Marry Their Adopted Daughters Under New Law

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).

Some 42,000 children aged between 10 and 14 were married in 2010, says The Guardian, citing the Iranian news website Tabnak. In Tehran alone, at least 75 children under the age of 10 were married.

Shadi Sadr, a human rights lawyer with the London-based Justice for Iran, says that the new bill is tantamount to legalizing pedophilia:

“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?

Photo from Thinkstock


Jerome S
Jerome S9 months ago


Jim Ven
Jim V9 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Louise D.
Louise D4 years ago

I take it that someone read the book Lolita and thought it was a good idea which is a bit of a surprise for Iran. Though on the otherhand it could just be just that they are wanting to appeal to the hebephiliacs in Iran, I suspect that pretty soon they will be wanting to appeal to men who want to marry goats soon.

Eleonora Oldani
Eleonora Oldani4 years ago

To Susan T - the true meaning of what you're actually saying slipped by me:

"Iran still believes stoning women for their husband crime of adultry is legal and right."

Are you really saying that Iran stones WOMEN if and when their HUSBANDS commit adultery?!? If so, where did you ever read such lies? Would be interested in a link or reference.

Thanks a lot.

Eleonora Oldani
Eleonora Oldani4 years ago

Got cut off:

Furthermore, Iran (which is the focus of your attention) placed in 2002 a moratorium on stoning. This notwithstanding lower courts still issued at times stoning verdicts which then are routinely overruled by higher courts. A case made headlines mid 2007 where a MAN was stoned nonetheless to death in Iran for adultery.

The Iranian judiciary cancelled stoning as punishment in 2008 and submitted it to parliament for approval and in 2013 the parliament published an official report that stoning had been excluded from the penal code.

Eleonora Oldani
Eleonora Oldani4 years ago

To Susan T - I do share your outrage as stated in my earlier comment. However, I fail to understand why your rage is directed at all Middle Eastern men of whom just a few commit this crime which in my reading is nothing but camouflaged pedophilia? The vast majority of Middle Eastern men are as outraged as we are. Latest proof is the nationwide outcry of the male Egyptian population when some extremists (during Mursi’s regime in 2012) wanted to lower the marriage age which is 18 yrs – and still is.

Strange though that it doesn't seem to bother you that this "habit" prevails on the African continent (Christians, Muslims, pagans and others - in other words no specific religion) as a hole as well as in other countries like e.g. according to UNICEF, in (Hindu) India 47% of girls are married under-aged, and 18% are married under the age of 15!! These marriages are often performed without the consent of the girls involved in the marriage. No concern of yours?

Regarding your note about stoning: isn't it amazing that this utterly cruel death is enshrined in the Torah but NOT in the Qur'an? But we also know that the Aztec culture knew stoning to death for certain crimes. Equally we know that Oedipus asked to be stoned to death upon learning that he killed his own father.

What slipped by you is that MEN are/were equally punished by stoning – among other offences for adultery. Is this of no interest to you because they're men?

Furthermore, Iran (which is the fo

Susan T.
Susan T4 years ago

I don't think any person should be FORCED into a marriage, especially if a young CHILD is involved, WHY are you men in mid-east countries intent on raping and abusing these GIRLS ...women understand this from me. YOU ARE WRONG

Susan T.
Susan T4 years ago

hi, woody allen is a liberal hollywood hack. and one persons sin/incest makes it OK for all others to do the same?
I think not.
Iran still believes stoning women for their husband crime of adultry is legal and right.
These mid east countrys have no respect for women and the us feminists do not say a thing

Elke Hoppenbrouwers

to every one who reacted with 'sick!' ,'sick bastards', 'disgusting', etc I would like to ask the following question: How many Woody Allen films have you seen over the past 15 years? Couldn't you at least have boycotted Woody Allen who did the same thing you find so disgusting because an Iranian does it. Don't get me wrong, I believe it is wrong but I believe it is wrong everywhere!

Anna Undebeck
Anna Undebeck4 years ago

Really sick!!!