Let's get married—for an hour - Macleans.ca

Let’s get married—for an hour

Young unmarried couples craving a getaway turn to the legal loophole of “temporary marriages”


Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters

The penalty for having sex outside of marriage in Iran is 100 lashes. So men wanting a dalliance or young unmarried couples craving a getaway turn to the legal loophole of “temporary marriages”: contracts of a specific duration—anywhere from 60 minutes to 99 years—and for a specified amount of money. These controversial marriages, traditional in the Shia form of Islam, are promoted by the ayatollahs as a way financially troubled women can make money or, as one delicately explained earlier this year, a way for a young widow to “answer her needs, because if she doesn’t, she will have psychological problems.”

Feminists decry the practice as exploitation of poor women and a form of legalized prostitution that serves only men. Recently, women’s groups fought off an attempt, the second in three years, by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to make the marriages even more male-friendly, including giving men legal cover to bypass asking permission for the relationship from their first wives. What is unmistakable is their growing popularity: up by at least 28 per cent last year in Tehran. For young couples who can’t afford to marry, the loophole is only way to be together, and avoid 100 lashes.


Let’s get married—for an hour

  1. O to be Muslim, now that Eid is here :-)

  2. if its consensual whats the problem?

    • What's consensual about going through the process in order to avoid a flogging (or worse)?

  3. The war against Islam is only going to make for more extremism. When there's nothing left to fight, and nobody fighting them ie Israel); it just might get easier for women.

    • No, fighting would just intesify between the various sects of Islam. And besides, I'm not quite ready to give up my freedoms, limited as they are in Canada, for this delusional hope.

      • That's the nice thing about living in Canada, if you want freedom, its yours. That's not what "women" have in other parts of the world. @Margaret, I didn't see the anti-Israel comment. Maybe the Islam should also try to stop fighting Israel too.

  4. @Margaret, oh for sure. That's what 1 millennium of radical Islam has given women, more freedom. @getiton, its not really consensual, its how some women overcome poverty. @TerekFatah, thanks for the post on Twitter.

  5. You guys really dont get it do you…in Islam Marriage is basically gives men and women the right to be mahram i.e eligible for sex, eligible to be in each others company without any clothing restrictions. In shiite theology, there are two kinds of marriage:

    -Nikah, or permanent marriage: This kind of marriage gives couples the rights mentioned above, but along with it also come mandatory responsibilities e.g. the husband has to feed/clothe/house his wife, both husband and wife have to be available for sex to each other etc.etc.. The procedure for the marriage is basically a recitation of a marriage 'verse' and the acceptance by both side, followed by the payment or agreement on the Mahr / dowry amount given by the husband to the wife ( which is one of the wife's rights).

    -Mutah, or temporary marriage: Only enables the couple to becom mahram, but with none of the other responsibilities as mandated by permanent marriage. The procedure is the same, a verse followed by Mahr. This marriage can have a stipultation of time added to it.

    So you see, temporary marriage is not really 'marriage' , there are no marital responsibilities, instead its a license to be mahram. The money exchange is just the Mahr which is also exchanged in regular marriages.

    The abuse of temporary marriage for prostitution is just like the abuse of the sexual freedoms we enjoy for prostitution. Prostitution is wrong any way you look at it, even if its consensual.

  6. Prostitution is wrong – no doubt it is easy and sounds ethical to say. But the fact is prostitution is also quite an ancient institution, so to speak. It may be illegal but it is all pervasive and needs legalization to counter several deleterious consequences if it is suppressed without any necessary way-outs for the sexually starving males or females. Even in countries having maximum sexual freedom, termed permissive societies, prostitution exists and is looked on as a necessary evil. In that context, I don't think the efforts made by the Iranian President to legalized it in this fashion are wrong.

  7. Many marriages in "free" countries have strong characteristics of prostitution as well.

    Most marriages today are more temporary than permanent.

    In this day the word "marriage" has a wide array of meaning to different individuals.

    All governments everywhere would benefit if they stop concerning themselves with peoples relationship status's.

  8. I fail to see how this is different that what happens at Sugardaddy.com or sugarbabe.com ?I guess ligalized prostitution or exploitation of women for money doesn't happen only in Iran..