Iran -- Age of Sexual Consent
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EDITOR 07-2002:  We received an email which pointed out a mistake in our information.  We were showing the age of marriage as the age of consent to sexual activity.  However, there is no age of consent to sexual activity outside of marriage:

Email Received 07-2002:
You have Legal Age of Concent in IRAN written in your site "14F/17M". But it's not true. In Iran having any sexual event requires that partners to be married. If they marry, there is no any age restriction, but always they MUST BE MARRIED or otherwise it's illegal and will result in legaly punishment(up to execution).



IRAN LAWS: 1. Homosexuality is illegal, those charged with love-making are given   a choice of four deathstyles: being hanged, stoned, halved by a sword, or dropped from the highest perch. According to Article 152, if two men not related by blood are discovered naked under one cover without good reason, both will be punished at a judge's discretion. Gay teens (Article 144) are also punished at a judge's discretion. Rubbing one's penis between the thighs without penetration (tafheed) shall be punished by 100 lashes for each offender. This act, known to the English-speaking world as   "frottage" is punishable by death if the "offender" is a non-Moslem.   If frottage is thrice repeated and penalty-lashes have failed to stop such repetitions, upon the fourth "offense" both men will be put to death. According to Article 156, a person who repents and  confesses his gay behavior prior to his identification by four witnesses, may be pardoned. Even kissing "with lust" (Article 155) is forbidden. This bizarre law works to eliminate old Persian male-bonding customs, including common kissing and holding hands in public.



Having read your additional notes on the subject, I have come across the following News Article which may help clarify the situation. I will leave the interpretation of the News for yourselves. I trust you will find it intresting and inforamative.
I would like to congradulate you also on your excelent site



Updated 06-2002:

Iran raises age of consent for brides to 13

June 23 2002 at 03:15PM

Tehran - Iranian authorities have approved a law to raise the age at which girls can get married without their parents' consent to 13 from nine and for boys to 15 from 14, newspapers said on Sunday.

The decision by Iran's Expediency Council arbitration body watered down a bill passed by the reformist- dominated parliament in 2000 which tried to raise the age of consent to 15 for girls and 18 for boys to cut teenage marriages and ease criticism of Iran's human rights record.

That bill was vetoed by the Guardian Council, a 12-man body dominated by conservative clerics whose job it is to ensure legislation conforms to Islamic Sharia law.

Iran's clerical establishment has promoted marriage as a means to combat what it calls immorality amongst youth.

The Expediency Council is charged with arbitrating in disputes between parliament and the Guardian Council.

The arbitration body ruling does not change the age at which children can get married - nine for girls and 14 for boys - but says girls below the age of 13 and boys younger than 15 need their parents' permission and the approval of a "righteous court".

Reformists said the new law did not protect children since most of those who married at a young age did so under pressure from their parents.

European Union countries have pointed to the low legal age of marriage in Iran as an example of its poor human rights.



And again:
Legal age for brides lifted to 13
IRAN'S arbitrating body has approved a reformist law increasing the minimum marriage age from 9 to 13 for girls and from 14 to 15 for boys.
The new law stipulates that marriage of girls under 13 and boys under 15 will require court permission, the government-run daily Iran has reported. It gave no further details.
The law's approval is seen as a victory for Iran's reformists, who have sought to promote women's rights.
The elected legislature passed a similar Bill in August 2000, but the hard-line Guardian Council rejected it as contradicting Islamic sharia law.
Now, the Expediency Council, which arbitrates between parliament and the Guardian Council, has passed the measure into law. Officials were unavailable for comment.
"This is yet another fulfillment of promises of reformists, especially female lawmakers, who had promised to protect women's rights," said lawmaker Fatemah Khatami. "Still, we have a long way to go to provide adequate legal protection for women."



Parliament votes to restrict marriage age    (Thursday, August 10, 2000)
TEHRAN, Aug 10 (AFP) - The reformist-dominated parliament on Wednesday approved a motion to allow the judiciary and not parents to decide whether boys under 17 and girls under 14 years of age can marry.  According to the official IRNA news agency, the assembly is expected to debate a draft law to this effect in its next session.  Several religious MPs belonging to parliament's conservative minority expressed their disapproval with the motion, saying that Islam's sharia law
which sets the marriage age at nine for girls and 14 for boys, should apply.

Before the 1979 Islamic revolution, the age of majority for both sexes was 16 years.   In recent years, Iranian authorities have encouraged young people to enter into provisional marriages or "siqeh," recognised by Shiite Islam.  Provisional marriages, a common practice among the less well-to-do classes here, allow men -- either married or single -- to live with widows or
divorcees for a predetermined period of time.

The fact that some 10 million of Iran's 60-million-strong population have reached the age of marriage is a recurring topic of conversation among youth, families, religious and political officials.   Iranian officials regularly propagate marriage as a means to prevent "social corruption" among its youth.

Age Distribution (1996 est.)  0-14 years ................. 45%   ....... male 15,166,131  female 14,289,283
[EDITOR:  45% of IRAN's population is 0-14 years old]


EDITOR'S NOTE:  We find this one slightly hard to imagine.  Especially in Iran.

I just heard on NPR that the age for marriage for girls in Iran is 9.  Not that I can confirm it though, just what I heard on the radio.

UPDATE:  11/20/99:

Date: Sat, 20 Nov 1999 07:14:23 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Age of Consent in Iran
Age of Consent:

I was a little worried about listing the OAC for Male/Female relations in Iran to be 9. I did a little research and found a paper on the family makup in Iran and found a particular section that would be of interest to AOC:

The timing of marriage

Early marriage for both men and women was a common practice in Iran (Moezi, 1967). According to the 19th century travelers to Iran, children were often betrothed when they were young, although the wedding did not take place for some years (Rice, 1923). In the past ,children were occasionally betrothed in infancy and they would become couples when the female was about 14 and the male about 16 years of age (Piggot, 1874). Although such young marriages have not totally disappeared, legal and actual age of marriage has increased significantly compared to the historical description of child marriages. Both legal changes and social changes have influenced the increase in the age of marriage. A major development regarding the timing of marriage was secularization of the marital ceremony and civil registration of vital events. For many centuries marriage was basically a religious act and was recorded by a local religious trustee. In 1930, along with other changes introduced by the modernizing government of Reza Shah, the recording of vital events (birth, marriage, divorce, and death) became secular. Also age of marriage was brought into the domain of civil law and a minimum of age of marriage of 15 years for girls and 18 years for boys was prescribed by law which went into effect for the first time in 1935 (Momeni, 1972). Article 1041 of the Iranian Civile code, which went into effect in 1935, states "the marriage of females before reaching the full age of 15 and that of males before reaching the full age of 18 is forbidden. Nevertheless, in cases where proper reasons justify it, upon the proposal of the Public Prosecutor and by sanction of the courts exemption from age restriction can be accorded. But in any case exemption from age restriction cannot be granted to females below full age of 13 and for males below the full age of 15." The law stipulated that all individuals who are instrumental in arranging marriages below the legal minimum age may receive penalties if convicted.

Despite the legal changes in age of marriage introduced in 1930s, the actual age of marriage was still low in the middle of 20th century. As late as 1966, 47 percent of women in the age group 15-19 were married (Aghajanian, 1991). It is not clear as to what exact age these women were married, however, a study (Aghajanian, Gross, and Lew, 1993) of a national sample of women born between 1927 through 1951, who were all at least once married by 1977, shows that more than 50 percent of the women were married by age 16 (see Table 2). Because the median age of marriage is 16 years, it is clear that for the large proportion of the 20th century about half of the Iranian women were probably married before age 15 despite the legal changes. "

The full URL can be found at My interpretation of this seems to indicate AOC for women is 13 and men is 15 (with approval of the local government). Though this does not seem to be fully enforced.

Kit from USA

New Reference:

Iranian Women and Girls: Victims of Exploitation and Violence, Sarvnaz Chitsaz and Soona Samsami

Rampant Prostitution

"The social environment imbedded in the misogynous views, laws and policies of the fundamentalist regime naturally spawns corruption, making it increasingly difficult for women to survive. Women bear the brunt of the economic difficulties and social barriers and restrictions. Large numbers of deprived women have been forced into prostitution or become addicted to drugs. Meanwhile, the clerical regime, touting Islam, claims to accord "divine respect" to women.

"It is appalling. Never has prostitution been so rampant. But everything is done behind the veil," Mahin, a 47-year old female
Iranian jurist purged by the mullahs, told Helen Kami, the French journalist for Elle magazine who visited Iran in January 1997. Kami writes: "Prostitutes regularly roam Gandhi Street in north Tehran. At 5 p.m., we go to Istanbuli Street, also in north Tehran. The cab drivers, looking for wealthy or foreign patrons, are driving slowly. In exchange for only $1 (500 Tomans), they can provide you with girls, alcoholic beverages, heroin and hashish."

Many more of the social consequences of the mullahs’ rule date back to the destructive, meaningless Iran-Iraq war, dragged on by Khomeini’s regime for eight years. In this case, too, women and children suffered most. Since it was very difficult for a widow to provide for herself and raise a family in Iran’s highly patriarchal society, multitudes turned to prostitution as the only means of survival. According to the Associated Press of July 21, 1989, the arrest of a war widow for prostitution touched off a national scandal, because the woman had prostituted herself as a last resort to feed her family.

Ressalat, a state-controlled newspaper, reported on July 3, 1991: "Three large brothels were discovered and shut down in Tehran in the past month alone. Thirty-eight women were arrested. Most of the arrested women said during interrogation that they had turned to prostitution as a result of poverty."

Unemployment and skyrocketing prices make it impossible for millions of Iranians to get married and raise a family. At a seminar on the difficulties of getting married, Ayatollah Haeri Shirazi proposed in January 1997 that authorities promote an unofficial, temporary marriage called sigheh, that can last less than 24 hours and be repeated as many times as desired. This form of exploitation of women has become very widespread, and legitimizes sexual relations with very young girls.  Quoting Mahin, the Iranian jurist, the Elle magazine reporter wrote in January 1997 about the life of a 9-year-old girl whose destitute
parents arranged for her to be a sigheh. The man visits his temporary "wife" every weekend at her father’s house, for which
privilege he pays her father about $12 per visit.

Not surprisingly, AIDS is spreading in Iran at an alarming rate. Despite the serious health and social problems this poses, little is
being done to address the crisis."



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