TEHRAN – More than one in five marriages in Iran ended in divorce last year – despite the government’s push for more couples to wed and have children to reverse slowing population growth.
The annual figures published on Tuesday also showed fewer people were getting married and the statistics coincide with rising concern about family breakdown in the Islamic republic. The country’s Registration Office, which records the number of new marriages as well as those that have split, said the divorce rate continued to edge up in the year ending March 2014.
“Some 158,753 couples filed for divorce in the last Iranian calendar year, increasing by 4.6 percent from 2013,” Ahmad Toysarkani, head of the office, told the official IRNA news agency. With 757,197 couples tying the knot in the same period, the marriage rate fell by 4.4 percent.
Iran's divorce rate has jumped from 12 percent to 21 percent since 2007. Tuesday's figures also showed that one in three marriages in the capital end in divorce. Toysarkani blamed the sharp rise in divorce on family interference – including non-respect for the financial terms governing a marriage – poverty, drugs and domestic violence.
Iran's population growth plummeted to only 1.29 percent in the past 12 months, the lowest in the region. “The rate could fall to zero in the next 30 years,” said Mohammad Nazemi Ardakani, an official at the national birth registry.
In measures aimed at addressing an ageing population, Iran's parliament is discussing a bill that would ban vasectomies and tighten the nation's abortion laws. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has urged the government to take measures to increase the current population of 77 million to 150 million within 50 years.