Monday, May 30, 2005

Iran: Temporary marriages on the rise

Adnkronos International:
The Islamic practice of "sighe" or temporary marriages - widely condemned by reformists and women's rights activists - is on the rise in Iran where the number of such unions increased by nine percent over the previous year. The custom allows men to establish the duration of the period - from two hours to 99 years - they want to remain "married" to a woman, and frees them from all obligation towards the women once it expires. Former Iranian president, Hojatolislam Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is considered the favourite for elections later this year, has come out in favour of sighe marriages.

"It [a sighe] marriage, is an efficient answer [to the problem] of pre-marital sex," Rafsanjani has said. Sex outside marriage is prohibited under Iran's strict Islamist laws. Women and men who are found guilty of adultery face death by stoning - although this punishment has been applied less frequently in recent years.