Lawmakers in Iran have passed a bill allowing men to marry their adopted daughters. These marriages can take place when the girl is as young as 13 years old.
According to the bill, which was passed on Sunday, the caretaker of the family can choose to marry his adopted daughter if he believes it is in the family’s best interest.
Shadi Sadr, a human rights lawyer with the London-based group Justice for Iran, warned that the bill implies that the parliament is legalizing pedophilia.
“It’s not part of the Iranian culture to marry your adopted child,” Sadr told The Guardian. “Obviously incest exists in Iran more or less as it happens in other countries across the world, but this bill is legalising paedophilia and is endangering our children and normalising this crime in our culture.”
Girls in the Islamic republic can marry at the age of 13, as long as they have permission from their father. In Iran, girls younger than 13 can marry with the permission of a judge.
“You should not be able to marry your adopted children, full stop,” Sadr added. “If a father marries his adopted daughter who is a minor and has sex, that’s rape.”
Sadr also told The Guardian that lawmakers are making vast attempts at downplaying the sexual aspect of such marriages, and are instead focusing on how the bill would “protect” young girls.
Shiva Dolatabadi, head of Iran’s society for protecting children’s rights, argued that the bill would legalize incest.
“You cannot open a way in which the role of a father or a mother can be mixed with that of an spouse,” Dolatabadi stated. “Children can’t be safe in such a family.”
The Guardian added that many experts believe the new bill is contradictory of Islamic beliefs, and will likely not pass the Guardian Council.