Rise in divorce in Iran linked to shift in status of women

Wed Oct 22, 2014 2:01am EDT
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By Babak Dehghanpisheh

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Weddings in Iran have long been an over-the-top affair with families spending thousands of dollars to celebrate a union. But now some couples are splurging on an entirely different sort of nuptial celebration: a divorce party.

Local media outlets and blogs have been abuzz for months about lavish parties, complete with sarcastic invitations and humorous cakes, for couples splitting up. The phenomenon has become so widespread in Tehran and other large cities that one prominent cleric said couples who throw these parties are “satanic”.

Still, the divorce parties are a sign of an undeniable trend: divorce in Iran is soaring. Since 2006, the rate of divorce has increased more than one a half times to the point where around 20 percent of marriages now end in divorce.

In the first two months of this Iranian calendar year (late March to late May) alone, more than 21,000 divorce cases were logged, according to official statistics.

The rise in the number of couples choosing to split up has angered conservatives in Iran who see the increase in divorce as an affront to the values of the Islamic Republic.

Last month, Mustafa Pour Mohammadi, the current justice minister who is also a cleric, said that having 14 million divorce cases within the judiciary is “not befitting of an Islamic system,” according to the Iranian Students News Agency.

Some of the causes for divorce in Iran, like many other countries, include economic problems, adultery, drug addiction or physical abuse. But the increase in the divorce rate points to a more fundamental shift in Iranian society, experts say.

“There has been a big growth in individualism in Iran, especially among women. Women are more educated and have increased financial empowerment,” said Hamid Reza Jalaipour, a sociologist at Tehran University.   Continued...

An Iranian couple sit overlooking the city of Tehran, in this October 19, 2006 file photo.     REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/Files