Iranian Divorce Rate May Hit 100%

Aug 8, 2012 by

Although Iran is not found on current lists of countries with high divorce rates, it seems the country may possibly have the highest divorce rate in the world today. A study released by a research group at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran earlier this month reports that the divorce rate in Iran could be as high as 90% among couples who marry by choice as opposed to more traditional arranged marriages. The split between traditional arranged marriages and more modern “love” marriages is larger than you might think though, with just 15% of marriages in Iran today being arranged and supervised by the parents of the bride and groom. The other 85% of marrying couples in Iran do so without parental supervision and choose their mates on their own.

The problem is that the Iranian couples marrying for “love” also have the horrendously high 90% divorce rate. Couples married with parental consent were reported to have a minuscule divorce rate of just 2%. The study concluded that the “new” marriages were almost exclusive to young Iranians who get married early without really getting to know their partners very well. The love marriages were often found to be based on unrealistic expectations and disregarded basic cultural, financial and religious preferences that are so important in more traditional unions.

Despite divorce being discouraged in Islam and historically disapproved in Iranian culture, the rate of divorce for love marriages may eventually reach a point of 100% failure if the current increase of 11% per year continues. As the population of Iran increases and shifts toward a younger median age, the number of couples marrying traditionally is decreasing and the younger generation is rushing headlong into modern matrimonial doom. The study noted that couples in love marriages do not receive the family guidance and counseling that arranged marriages provide. That marriages strongly rooted in traditional community ties seldom end in divorce underscores the importance and value of family relationships in all marriages, not just Iranian ones.

Young Iranians may be making steps toward a more modern Western approach to marriage, but at the same time they are also inheriting some of the West’s social ills in the form of high divorce rates. That fact is reinforced when you consider that divorce is almost nonexistent in the more traditional rural and tribal communities, and rising only in the urban communities and metropolitan areas. Among married couples in Iran, men from age 25 to 30 and women from age 20 to 25 had the greatest numbers of divorces. Divorce has traditionally had great consequences for Iranian women due to their low economic and social status and their dependence on men for survival. For today’s young Iranian working women breaking with tradition, it is not surprising that those employed outside the home have the highest rate of divorce.

Iran seems a country torn between the traditions of the past and the temptations of the future. As part of the population tries to remain rooted in their cultural heritage and apart from the problems of the West, the nation’s youth is trading that heritage for freedom to make their own choices, and ultimately, their own mistakes. The result is a country with two different extreme divorce rates, one so small it is hard to measure, and the other so large it threatens to reach a total eclipse of marriage. All that seems to be missing from the scenario is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announcing that “In Iran, we don’t have divorces like in your country.”

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