Tag Archives: Child Brides

Zimbabwe Child Brides Fight Back in Court

Across sub-Saharan Africa, 40 percent of women are married as children.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, 40 percent of women are married as children.

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Two former child brides have taken Zimbabwe’s government to court in a ground-breaking bid to get child marriages declared illegal and unconstitutional.

Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi say child marriage, which is rife in Zimbabwe, is a form of child abuse which traps girls in lives of poverty and suffering.

“I’ve faced so many challenges. My husband beat me. I wanted to stay in school but he refused. It was very, very terrible,” said Tsopodzi, a mother of one, who was married at 15.

“I want to take this action to make a difference,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Harare on Tuesday. “There are a lot of children getting married.”

Data published last year indicates one third of girls in Zimbabwe marry before their 18th birthday and 5 percent before they turn 15.

Child marriage deprives girls of education and opportunities, jeopardizes their health and increases the risks of exploitation, sexual violence, domestic abuse and death or serious injury in childbirth.

In their statements to the Constitutional Court, Tsopodzi and Mudzuru, now 19 and 20, say Zimbabwe’s Marriage Act is discriminatory because it sets the minimum age at 16 for girls and 18 for boys. The Customary Marriage Act sets no minimum age.

They say the law should be brought into line with Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution as well as regional and international treaties banning child marriage.

The 2013 constitution says every child under 18 has the right to parental care, education and protection from “economic and sexual exploitation”.

It does not set a minimum marriage age, but states that no one should be forced to marry against their will and indicates that 18 is the minimum age for starting a family.

VICIOUS CIRCLE

Poverty is the driving force behind child marriage in Zimbabwe. Parents often marry girls off so they have one less mouth to feed. Dowry payments may be a further incentive.

Some communities also see child marriage as a way of protecting girls from having premarital sex.

In her affidavit, Mudzuru described how child marriage and poverty create a vicious circle.

“Young girls who marry early and often in poor families are then forced to produce young children in a sea of poverty and the cycle begins again,” she stated.

Mudzuru, who was married at 16 and had two children before she was 18, said her life was “hell” and she spent her days trapped in drudgery.

“My life is really tough. Raising a child when you are a child yourself is hard,” she said by phone from her home in Harare. “I should be going to school.”

The girls’ lawyer, former finance minister Tendai Biti, presented the legal challenge in January.

Beatrice Savadye, who heads rights group ROOTS which is backing the ground-breaking case, said it had generated a lot of interest both inside Zimbabwe and in other countries in the region.

She said it was unclear when the court would give its decision, but that it had to rule within six months.

Globally, some 15 million girls are married off every year. Across sub-Saharan Africa, 40 percent of women are married as children.

 

Iraq’s New Child Marriage Bill Would Allow Men to Marry 9-Year-Olds

iraq

A draft law being considered in Iraq would allow girls as young as nine to get married, and strip all women of significant human rights.

by  SAMEER N. YACOUB and SINAN SALAHEDDIN

BAGHDAD (AP) — A contentious draft law being considered in Iraq could open the door to girls as young as nine getting married and would require wives to submit to sex on their husband’s whim, provoking outrage from rights activists and many Iraqis who see it as a step backward for women’s rights.

The measure, aimed at creating different laws for Iraq’s majority Shiite population, could further fray the country’s divisions amid some of the worst bloodshed since the sectarian fighting that nearly ripped the country apart after the U.S.-led invasion. It also comes as more and more children under 18 get married in the country.

“That law represents a crime against humanity and childhood,” prominent Iraqi human rights activist Hana Adwar told The Associated Press. “Married underage girls are subjected to physical and psychological suffering.

Iraqi law now sets the legal age for marriage at 18 without parental approval. Girls as young as 15 can be married only with a guardian’s approval.

The proposed new measure, known as the Jaafari Personal Status Law, is based on the principles of a Shiite school of religious law founded by Jaafar al-Sadiq, the sixth Shiite imam. Iraq’s Justice Ministry late last year introduced the draft measure to the Cabinet, which approved it last month despite strong opposition by rights groups and activists.

The draft law does not set a minimum age for marriage. Instead, it mentions an age in a section on divorce, setting rules for divorces of girls who have reached the age of 9 years in the lunar Islamic calendar. It also says that’s the age girls reach puberty. Since the Islamic calendar year is 10 or 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, that would be the equivalent of 8 years and 8 months old. The bill makes the father the only parent with the right to accept or refuse the marriage proposal.

Critics of the bill believe that its authors slipped the age into the divorce section as a backhanded way to allow marriages of girls that young. Already, government statistics show that nearly 25 percent of marriages in Iraq involved someone under the age of 18 in 2011, up from 21 percent in 2001 and 15 percent in 1997. Planning Ministry spokesman Abdul-Zahra Hendawi said the practice of underage marriage is particularly prevalent in rural areas and some provinces where illiteracy is high.

Also under the proposed measure, a husband can have sex with his wife regardless of her consent. The bill also prevents women from leaving the house without their husband’s permission, would restrict women’s rights in matters of parental custody after divorce and make it easier for men to take multiple wives.

Main Entry ImageIn this Thursday, March 13, 2014 photo, women pass by a banner for the Jaafari Personal Status Law in Baghdad, Iraq. The Arabic on the banner reads, “The Jaafari Personal Status Law is for you and all of us.”

Parliament must still ratify the bill before it becomes law. That is unlikely to happen before parliamentary elections scheduled for April 30, though the Cabinet support suggests it remains a priority for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s administration. Al-Maliki is widely expected to seek a third term.

Baghdad-based analyst Hadi Jalo suggested that election campaigning might be behind the proposal.

“Some influential Shiite politicians have the impression that they should do their best to make any achievement that would end the injustice that had been done against the Shiites in the past,” Jalo said.

The formerly repressed Shiite majority came to power after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-led regime. Since then, Shiite religious and political leaders have encouraged followers to pour in millions into streets for religious rituals, a show of their strength.

Iraqi Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimmari, a Shiite, has brushed off the criticism of the bill. His office introduced a companion bill that calls for the establishment of special Shiite courts that would be tied to the sect’s religious leadership.

Al-Shimmari insists that the bill is designed to end injustices faced by Iraqi women in past decades, and that it could help prevent illicit child marriage outside established legal systems.

“By introducing this draft law, we want to limit or prevent such practices,” al-Shimmari said.

But Sunni female lawmaker Likaa Wardi believes it violates women’s and children’s rights and creates divisions in society.

“The Jaffari law will pave the way to the establishments of courts for Shiites only, and this will force others sects to form their own courts. This move will widen the rift among the Iraqi people,” Wardi said.

New York-based Human Rights Watch also strongly criticized the law this week.

“Passage of the Jaafari law would be a disastrous and discriminatory step backward for Iraq’s women and girls,” deputy Middle East director Joe Stork said in a statement. “This personal status law would only entrench Iraq’s divisions while the government claims to support equal rights for all.”

It is unclear how much support the bill enjoys among Iraqi Shiites, but Jalo, the analyst, believes that it would face opposition from secular members of the sect.

Qais Raheem, a Shiite government employee living in eastern Baghdad, said the draft bill contradicts the principles of a modern society.

“The government officials have come up with this backward law instead of combating corruption and terrorism,” said Raheem who has four children, including two teenage girls. “This law legalizes the rape and we should all reject it.”

Iraq Child Marriage Bill

“I Sold My Sister to Save the Family”

A young Syrian widow who lost her husband and four children to the civil war describes a miserable life in a Jordanian refugee camp – and a heart-wrenching decision.
Article illustrative image

A woman at the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan

ZAATARI CAMP — Amani just turned 22. Two months ago she fled from the civil war in Syria and left her house in the capital of Damascus. After a dangerous nightlong trip, she arrived at Zaatari, the refugee camp just over the border in Jordan, where her parents and two sisters had already lived for more than a year. In Damascus she lived with her husband and five children, in an apartment in the old city center. Like many other Syrian girls, she got married when she was still a child. She had just turned 15 when she found the man of her dreams and decided to wed.

“In Syria, things are different,” Amani says. “Girls get married very early. It is a habit and a tradition. But it doesn’t mean we are all married off [to strangers]. I got to choose my husband and he got to choose me. We could never be more happy than when we were together.”

Five children later, the civil war broke out in the country that she loved for its uniqueness but disliked for its unfair policies and corrupt government. Living in the capital where the government of Bashar al-Assad was still in control did not make life easier for her and her family. Her husband took up arms from the first days of the armed revolt and began fighting with the Free Syrian Army. Soon, he became the leader of one of the biggest battalions fighting against the regime in Damascus.

Amani herself was also fighting with the rebels, despite the five children she had to look after.

“Women aren’t as strong as men, but sometimes they are more strategic. One can’t work without the other,” she says. But a deadly attack on their apartment building brought sorrow and sadness. Her husband and four of her children were killed on the same day.

Amani escaped and managed to save only her youngest daughter.

“When I heard the air jets of the regime approaching, I hid my little daughter underneath the sink of our kitchen,” she remembers. “She just fit in the small space between the sink and the garbage. She was just a baby. The other kids had run to their dad to seek protection. And I, in panic and to see what was going on, ran into the street. Seconds after reaching the street, I witnessed an explosion destroy the entire house. Within the debris I could only find my little baby.”

Retreat but no respite

After the tragedy, Amani decided to make the dangerous trip from Damascus to the refugee camp in Jordan, to protect her daughter’s life. But life in Zaatari has been anything but a respite.

“We are locked up like monkeys in a cage. The moment you walk in the camp, there is no way out anymore,” she says.

The camp is overpopulated. A sea of sails is spanned over 3.3 square kilometers and currently accommodates 150,000 refugees — three times the number that it was built for almost two years ago.

This artificial settlement, in the middle of a dry desert, is afflicted by sandstorms and disease. The little humanitarian aid that reaches the camp cannot help all the people who need it. Those who want bread or blankets to protect themselves against the bitter cold have to purchase them from the few individuals who receive this aid for free, but then sell them illegally. Some sell the aid because they are desperate for cash. Others are bored and regard it as the only way to fill their days. But what is clear is that an entire underground economy has taken root in the camp, making it even more difficult to properly organize aid. The struggle for food is fierce, and earning enough money to sustain a family is limited to the lucky few.

“I work seven days a week, for at least 10 hours a day, for an NGO that takes care of the smallest children here in the camp,” Amani says. “After working an entire week, I get three dollars. With an ill mother, an elderly father and a baby to take care of, this life was untenable. My older sister and her husband still have all their children, thank God, but this means five extra mouths to feed.”

Nourishing a family of 10 with only $3 quickly became unfeasible. Amani brought her younger sister, Amara, to work at the same NGO. But even doubling the income was not enough to take care of all of them. There was only one way to get money quickly, a route that many families took before Amani, and that was to sell one of the girls. Amani married off her younger sister.

“It isn’t rare in Syria to marry at the age of 16,” she says. “Most Arab men are aware of this, and often come to Syria to find a young bride. These days, they come to find them at the camps, where almost everybody is desperate to leave. I have seen Jordanians, Egyptians and Saudis passing by the tents in search of a virgin to take along. They pay $300, and get the girl of their dreams in return.

“I didn’t have a choice. I knew she wasn’t in love, but I also knew that he would take care of her.” For a moment, she clams up and the room is filled with an awkward silence.

“I would have sold myself, but Amara was the only virgin in our family. We had to sell her, in order to allow the rest of us to survive. What else could I do?”

Amara was 14 when she married a Saudi who passed by their tent and asked her father for her hand. But that was after he had met Amani, who informed him of the family’s financial desperation and that her younger sister was still not married off. It was seemingly the only way to make it possible for the youngest sister to leave the camp, which is more like a prison than a home, and build a proper life. And with this marriage, Amani secured critical money for her family, at least for the time being.

 

Britain’s Underage Muslim Marriage Epidemic

The imam of Birmingham’s Central Jamia Masjid Ghamkol Sharif Mosque (pictured above) agreed to perform the marriage of a 14-year-old girl against her will.

by Soeren Kern

More than a dozen Muslim clerics at some of the biggest mosques in Britain have been caught on camera agreeing to marry off girls as young as 14.

Undercover reporters filming a documentary about the prevalence of forced and underage marriage in Britain for the television program ITV Exposure secretly recorded 18 Muslim imams agreeing to perform an Islamic marriage, known as a nikah, between a 14-year-old girl and an older man.

Campaigners against forced marriage — which is not yet a crime in Britain — say thousands of underage girls — including some under the age of five — are being forced to marry against their will in Muslim nikahs every year, and that the examples exposed by the documentary represent just “the tip of the iceberg.”

The documentary, entitled “Forced to Marry,” was first broadcast on October 9 and involves two reporters posing as the mother and brother of a 14-year-old girl to be married to an older man. The reporters contacted 56 mosques across Britain and asked clerics to perform a nikah. The imams were specifically told that the “bride” did not consent to the marriage to an older man from London.

Although the legal age for marriage in Britain is 16, according to Islamic Sharia law girls can marry once they reach puberty. The imams who agreed to marry the girl openly mocked the legitimacy of British law, reflecting the rise of a parallel Islamic legal system in Britain.

One of the Muslim clerics who agreed to perform the underage marriage is Mohammed Shahid Akhtar, the imam of the Central Jamia Masjid Ghamkol Sharif Mosque in Birmingham, the second-largest mosque in Britain with a capacity of more than 5,000 worshippers.

On being informed that the girl did not want to get married, Akhtar replied: “She’s 14. By Sharia, grace of God, she’s legal to get married. Obviously Islam has made it easy for us. There is nothing against that. We’re doing it because it’s okay through Islam.”

The documentary also shows Akhtar expressing his contempt for British marriage laws: “You’ve got the kaffirs[non-believers], the law, the English people that … you know, you can’t get married twice but, by the grace of God, we can get married four times.”

An undercover UK investigation revealed that Imams at some of Britain's biggest mosques were willing to marry off girls as young as 14. (Shutterstock)

An undercover UK investigation revealed that Imams at some of Britain’s biggest mosques were willing to marry off girls as young as 14. (Shutterstock)

Another cleric who agreed to marry the 14 year old girl is Mufti Shams al-Huda al-Misbahi, who preaches at the Jamia Masjid Kanzul Iman Mosque in Heckmondwike, a town near Leeds in north-central England.

When the undercover reporter, posing as the brother of the girl to be married, says, “She’s not willing now, but she will be,” Misbahi responds: “If you make her willing, she will be willing.” He is then filmed saying that he would perform the marriage without providing an official marriage certificate valid under British law. “We’ll make everything okay by Islam. We’ll write down and put it in our records.” Misbahi goes on to tell the undercover reporters that the girl will be able to live with her new husband after the ceremony.

Misbahi is a senior Muslim cleric who has worked with the West Yorkshire Police as an advisor on community cohesion, a British concept that refers to the integration of Muslim immigrants within a multicultural society. Before being caught on camera advocating forced marriage, Misbahi had publicly condemned the practice for many years.

Another imam at the Al Quba Mosque and Shahporan Islamic Center in Manchester was filmed saying: “I can get you someone to do the nikah for you, that’s not going to be a problem.”

The documentary includes an interview with Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Northwest England. “Forced marriage is probably the last form of slavery in the UK,” he says.

In an interview with the Yorkshire Post, Aneeta Prem, founder of the Freedom Charity which educates children about forced marriage, said: “I think whoever is involved in this, you are talking about child abuse and exploitation and it is something we need to stop. People are too culturally sensitive when dealing with this, they are worried about offending particular groups. We have to say it’s immoral and illegal and stamp it out. I think what we are hearing about is the tip of the iceberg, it is a huge problem.”

At least 250 children are known to have been subjected to forced marriage in Britain in 2012, including a two-year-old girl who is believed to be the country’s youngest victim of the practice.

The statistics were provided by the British government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) as part of an ongoing effort to create a law that would criminalize forced marriage in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The custom is already illegal in Scotland.

Overall, the FMU said it gave advice or support related to nearly 1,500 cases of forced marriage during 2012, although experts say the vast majority of forced marriages in Britain go unreported. A study produced by NatCen Social Research, a British think tank, estimates that the real number of forced marriages in Britain probably exceeds 8,000 per year.

Most of the instances of forced marriage in Britain involve Muslim families from South Asia, particularly Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Many of the cases involve Muslim children who are taken abroad by their parents and forced to marry against their will. During the 2013 summer holidays, for example, an average of five girls were believed to have been taken out of Britain every day to be forcibly married abroad. Forced marriages also often involve horrors such as kidnapping, beatings and rape.

Prime Minister David Cameron has compared the practice of forced marriage to modern day slavery and has said people should not “shy away” from addressing the issue because of political correctness. “For too long in this country we have thought, ‘Well, it’s a cultural practice and we just have to run with it,'” Cameron said. “We don’t. It’s a crime.”

In May 2013, Cameron submitted a bill to Parliament that would make forcing someone to marry a specific criminal offense. The measure is part of the Anti-Social Behavior, Crime and Policing Bill slowly working its way through the House of Commons, the lower house of the British Parliament.

To be sure, not everyone in Britain is in favor of making forced marriage a crime. According to a research document published by the House of Commons Library on September 16, 2013, some campaigners on the issue are worried that victims could be deterred from coming forward because they will not want to risk relatives going to prison. Others argue it may lead to youngsters being taken overseas at an earlier age to be put through forced marriages. Still others question how allegations of forced marriage would be proven to the criminal standard of proof: beyond reasonable doubt.

Another reason why Britain is taking so long to outlaw forced marriage involves multicultural sensitivities. Many promoters of British multiculturalism say the move to criminalize forced marriage will unfairly single out Muslims.

journal article entitled “A Civil Rather than Criminal Offence? Forced Marriage, Harm and the Politics of Multiculturalism in the UK” argues that the reluctance in Britain to criminalize forced marriage is due, in part, to the influence that multicultural ideals have had on current British approaches to the practice.

The article also attributes the British preference for civil remedies rather than criminal legislation to the tendency of the state to conceptualize the harms of forced marriage principally in terms of a violation of choice, rather than as a matter of long-term violence against women.

The question arises as to whether, by adopting such an approach, the state may be giving rise to a two-tier system of rights, in which minority group women are afforded a lesser protection of their human rights, as a result of their racial or cultural background.

Back in 1999, former Labour Party Home Office Minister Mike O’Brien criticized the lack of action on the problem forced marriages. “Multicultural sensitivity is no excuse for moral blindness,” he said.

Fast-forward to 2013. In an interview with the Sunday Times on October 6, Jasvinder Sanghera, an activist who has been instrumental in the decades-long campaign to criminalize forced marriage in Britain, sums it up this way: The issue has become “wrapped up in this moral blindness of cultural sensitivity.”

 

 

Every Day Should be “Day of the Girl”

Around the world, 66 million girls are going without education. That’s bad for them, bad for society. We can change it

• You tell us – how useful are such international events?

Afghan girls in a classroom

Afghan girls in a classroom. Since 2001, the number of girls in schools has risen from a few thousand under the Taliban to 2.7 million. Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty

Freida Pinto

Friday is International Day of the Girl, which means that, by tomorrow, the brief frenzy of outrage elicited by articles like this will have passed. This is human nature; I’ll be the first to admit that thinking about the scope of international female suffering often makes me feel like a metronome swaying between rage and despair. Because I know that globally a little girl is still worthless compared to her brothers. And because this makes no damn sense.

I take the long view. We are shortchanging humanity both economically and intellectually by throwing away the potential of our girls. As of this moment, 66 million of them do not get an education. There will be 14 million child brides in 2013 – that’s 13 little ones who were smeared in garish makeup and married since you began this paragraph. And 150 million girls are sexually assaulted each year, half of whom are barely pubescent.

It feels almost impossible to visualize these numbers and easier to just move on with the day. It is reasonable to conclude that until the last fundamentalist beheads a woman, we are doomed never to experience the true interdependence of men and women that we know we are capable of.

For sure, the day when the world’s girls are free from fear may be dismally far in the future. But I have seen the stuff they are made of, as I travel from nation to nation with Plan International. It has become strikingly clear to me how often the boundaries of females are casually breached. I have seen forced tiny prostitutes with dark circles under their eyes, child brides who died in childbirth – their bodies too underdeveloped to handle the stress, adolescents hobbled and feverish from extreme genital mutilation.

Freida Pinto, with Zoe Green

Freida Pinto working with Plan International. Photograph: Zoe Green

Like you, I have felt the agonies of empathy as I thought about Jyoti, my Indian sister gang-raped to death with a metal pole on a bus, or of Malala from Pakistan being shot in the head for simply asking to be a full human being. For simply wanting to learn.

And yet … how many girls have I met on my travels who have endured the worst but tell me they are not broken! Who clamor for education so they can become doctors or accountants! Who beg for birth control. Who come up with detailed plans to make their villages prosperous, but lack any backing to make their visions a reality.

We owe it to these small, bright sparks of humanity to overcome our world-weariness and take decisive, practical action, right now, before the browser refreshes. Clicking through to Girl Rising, for example, reveals how education shatters entrenched patterns of poverty and violence in just one generation. How can this be? Educated girls marry later and have fewer, healthier children. They participate in the labor force or start small businesses. Their work boosts their local economy and they put money aside to educate their daughters as well as their sons.

Crucially, these young women model different ways of being and relating to their sons. Men are the most powerful and vital allies a woman can have in the developing world, and in many cases, they are the key to allowing a girl to attend school. Men born to educated mothers are inclined to do just that.

We must refuse to let let this day pass by like a meaningless milestone. We must take action, with pride, knowing that there will be a ripple effect. Each of us will be directly affecting a girl’s subsequent economic potential and the fate of her future boys and girls. The gesture will be felt down the generations. By educating a girl today, you will change the world.

• for further details on contributing to Girl Rising’s work for female education,see here

Iran Passes “Pedophilia” Law Allowing Men to Marry Their 13-Year-Old Adopted Daughters

Iran passes a law allowing men to marry their 13-year-old adopted daughters just as the country’s new president touts himself as a moderate

True ideology: President Hassan Rouhani has portrayed himself as a moderate but the new law gives indications that he does not plan on stopping the conservative clerics in the Iranian parliament

True ideology: President Hassan Rouhani has portrayed himself as a moderate but the new law gives indications that he does not plan on stopping the conservative clerics in the Iranian parliament

By MEGHAN KENEALLY

A new law in Iran that allows men to marry their adopted daughters at the age of 13 has caused major concern that the country’s new president is not as progressive as originally thought.

President Hassan Rouhani has been hailed as a new moderate voice in the controversial Middle Eastern government but the approval of the new law shows that the extreme beliefs in the intolerant country have not evaporated.

The law was approved by the Iranian members of parliament and maintains that girls can marry with the permission of their father at the age of 13 and young boys at the age of 15.

Danger to children: The new law will allow for girls as young as 13 to get married and those younger than that age only require the permission of their fathers to do so (stock picture of young girls in Tehran)

Danger to children: The new law will allow for girls as young as 13 to get married and those younger than that age only require the permission of their fathers to do so (stock picture of young girls in Tehran)

The timing of the law being passed through the first legal hurdle, as reported by The Guardian, comes just days after Rouhani’s landmark phone call with President Obama- the first between the two countries leaders in 34 years- and an interview with CNN where he admitted the existence of the Holocaust- something that has long been denied by the religious extremists in Iran.

The law in question pertains to the legal marriage age, but the concern about incest is an additional factor for human rights advocates.

‘This bill is legalizing pedophilia,’ lawyer Shadi Sadr, who works for the group Justice for Iran, told the paper.

‘It’s not part of the Iranian culture to marry your adopted child. Obviously incest exists in Iran more or less as it happens in other countries across the world, but this bill is legalizing pedophilia and is endangering our children and normalizing this crime in our culture.’

Public steps: During an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Rouhani made the landmark step of acknowledging the Holocaust, which was previously denied by more conservative administrations

Public steps: During an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Rouhani made the landmark step of acknowledging the Holocaust, which was previously denied by more conservative administrations

Iranian officials argue that the question of fathers marrying their adopted daughters comes out of practicality since adopted girls are forced to wear a hijab around their fathers and mothers must wear it around their adopted sons.

Ms Sadr argues that it is just a legislative ploy to get around the normal bounds of a paternal relationship- with the sexual aspect of a marriage still in full play even though it is being publicly downplayed.

‘With this bill, you can be a pedophile and get your bait in the pretext of adopting children,’ she said.

There is some question whether the law will get the final stamp of approval by the country’s Governing Council, but the prospect has activists outraged.

Underage marriage is a real concern in the country as the state news agency reported that there were 42,000 children between the ages of 10 and 14 who were married in 2010.

If it passes through the final legal hurdles to become enforceable, the law will come as a step back following a recent period of apparent modernization in Iran.

Questionable move: President Obama faced immediate criticism over his call with Rouhani from Republicans in the budget fight but now this law may give their argument another facet

Questionable move: President Obama faced immediate criticism over his call with Rouhani from Republicans in the budget fight but now this law may give their argument another facet

After Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stepped down from power in August, Rouhani has made clear efforts to be considered a progressive leader by launching an official Twitter account- and making it visible to the Iranian public who have limited internet access.

The biggest turning point undoubtedly came when President Obama announced that the two had a phone conversation in the days leading up to the federal government shutdown on Monday evening.

Obama said that the conversation ‘underscores the deep mistrust between our countries, but also indicates the prospect of moving on that difficult history.’