The Parliamentarians in Iran have moved a bill in order to protect the rights of children, and it includes a clause that lets a man marry his own adopted daughter if she is 13 years old or older.
Activists of the country have since expressed their concerns that the bill gives an opportunity for the caretaker of a family to marry his or her adopted child if a court orders it’s in the best interests of an individual child.
Iran’s Guardian Council, which consists of clerics and jurists that review all parliamentary bills before the constitution and the Islamic law, has yet to give its final verdict on the controversial legislation.
Girls in the Islamic republic can marry as young as 13 years old if they seek permission from their father. Boys, on the other hand, are allowed to marry only after the age of 15.
A girl under the age of 13 is allowed to marry in the country, but she needs a judge’s permission. With the new bill, however, marrying stepchildren is prohibited under any circumstances.
The Iranian news website Tabnak reports that 42,000 children aged between 10 and 14 got married in the year 2010 alone, and at least 75 children under the age of 10 were married in Tehran.
Human rights lawyer Shadi Sadr told the Guardian that she feared the council would feel safe and secure to put its stamp of acceptance on the bill while Iran’s moderate president grabs the attention of the press during his UN visit to New York.
She added that the bill is legalizing pedophilia, and even though it’s not part of the Iranian culture to marry your adopted child, this bill is endangering Iranian children and normalizing this crime in their culture.
She noted that one should not be able to marry their own adopted children, full stop. If a father marries his adopted daughter who is a minor and has an intimate relationship with her, it should be considered a crime.
Sadr believes that Iran officials tried to play down the bill and added that it’s to “fix the issue of hijab complications when a child is adopted”.