Iran launches cohabitation task force

family law

The Iranian government has launched a task force to study the rising number of cohabiting couples in the country.

Deputy Health Minister Mohammad Eslami claimed that an increase in cohabitation would “have a negative impact” on the Islamic Republic’s birth rate. However, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reports that many young couples think the birth rate is not as important as their ability to make their own choices.

Couples who live together outside of marriage often leave the marital status page blank on their national identification certificate. As a result, the term “white marriages” has been used to describe such arrangements.

One such woman spoke about her experience to the International Campaign. The 30 year-old was only identified as ‘Shiva’. She said that she moved to the capital Tehran for her studies and got a joint apartment with her boyfriend. Shiva claimed that most ‘white marriages’ are formed in this city, adding that “this kind of arrangement would not have been possible” in her home town.

The Iranian government has opposed cohabitation for many years. It is actually defined as a criminal act under Article 637 of Iran’s Islamic Criminal Code so couples must be wary at all times, 35 year-old Mehrdad told the International Campaign.

The current generation of young Iranians “isn’t very interested in marriage” he said, but even though “white marriages are very stressful … in recent years they have increased a lot”. Mehrdad and his girlfriend live together but they cannot tell her family in case they react badly. “This part is agonizing”, he added.

“Unfortunately these matters are many times more difficult for Iranian girls”, he explained, as their “families generally won’t accept it”.

While Mehrdad’s family is aware of his circumstances, they are worried about how the government might react if they are discovered.

Last year, the government shut down a magazine because they believed the publication encouraged the practice.

Photo of Tehran, Iran by Ninara via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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