A conservative-led Iranian oversight body has ruled that girls can still be married as young as nine with parental permission, quashing an attempt by the reformist parliament to raise the minimum age to 15, and 18 for boys.
The Council of Guardians said the measure passed by parliament late last month was contrary to Islamic law, which sets the minimum marriage age at 14 for boys and nine for girls.
Several female MPs, quoted in newspapers Tuesday, criticized the ruling by the council and called on clerics in parliament to help mediate the dispute.
"The Council is not considering the consequences of forced marriages," MP Vahideh Talaghani said. "We must ensure that our young people reach their physical and intellectual maturity."
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, the age of majority for both sexes has been 16 but those under age have been allowed to marry with only the permission of their parents.
The parliamentary law would have required court approval for girls under 15 or boys under 18 to be married.
If the law is again approved by parliament, and rejected a second time by the Guardians Council, the matter will be arbitrated by another conservative-led body.
Meanwhile officials from UNICEF in Tehran told AFP that there was an ongoing "dialogue" with Iranian authorities and that a conference will be held next week on children's rights.
In recent years Iranian authorities have promoted marriage to prevent "social corruption" but have also approved provisional marriages or "siqeh," which are recognized by Shiite Islam.
Last week the Guardians Council, which rules whether legislation conforms to Muslim law, also rejected a bill to ease some restrictions on the press as anti-Islamic, setting up another showdown with the reform-majority parliament – TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )