“There has been a big growth in individualism in Iran, especially among women. Women are more educated and have increased financial empowerment”
Hamid Reza Jalaipour
(Sociologist, Tehran University)
Weddings in Iran are an over-the-top affair. But now some couples are splurging on divorce parties. They are a sign of a trend: divorce in Iran is soaring. Since 2006, the rate has increased more than 1.5 times. Around 20% of marriages now end in divorce. In the first two months of this Iranian calendar year (late March to late May) alone, 21,000 divorce cases were filed. The trend has angered conservatives, who see it as an affront to the values of the Islamic Republic. According to Mustafa Pour Mohammadi, the Justice Minister, 14 million divorce cases within the judiciary is “not befitting of an Islamic system”. Causes for divorce: economic problems, adultery, drug addiction or physical abuse. But the increase points to a more fundamental shift in Iranian society. “There has been a big growth in individualism in Iran, especially among women. Women are more educated and have increased financial empowerment”, says Hamid Reza Jalaipour, a sociologist (Tehran University). “It used to be that a woman would marry and she would just have to get along. Now if she’s not happy, she’ll separate. It’s not taboo”, he explains. For a 41-year-old woman, who divorced her husband because he was an abusive drug addict, it took four years of bureaucracy. "They don’t like divorce to come from the side of women". Marriage law in Iran traditionally favors the husband, who has the right to ask for a divorce. If the husband is unwilling to divorce, the wife must legally prove the husband is abusive, has psychological problems, etc. in order to separate. The broader trend, partly driving the rise in divorce, the greater number of women being educated and their presence in the work force, is not going to change: 60% of enrolled University students are female. “This is not the upper crust becomes Western and gets divorced. This is because of internal change in society. We are seeing a balancing in the power of women”, says Hamid Reza.