Turmoil in Iran over unmarried couples

Khamenei's chief secretary lashes out against cohabitation, or "white marriage," calling on Iranians to "fix their immoral ways."

Iranian couple holds hands (photo credit: IRANIAN MEDIA)
Iranian couple holds hands
(photo credit: IRANIAN MEDIA)
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's office made waves on Sunday, issuing criticism of cohabitation by unmarried couples. This is a growing social phenomenon in Iran which has been coined as "white marriage" (ezdevage sefid), which refers to cohabitation without a formal wedding ceremony, or even a temporary marriage agreement, the latter which is legal in Shia law.
Iranian news agency ISNA quoted Khamenei's chief secretary, Muhammad Muhammadi Golpaygani, as saying: "It's a shame that women and men decide to live together without any marriage agreement."
Golpaygani added that it was not too late to confront the issue and for "people to fix their immoral ways."
He opined that an entire generation is doomed because of this phenomenon, and called for tougher measures in the Islamic judicial system. He described it as "problematic"and "harmful to the sanctity of the family."
There are no official statistics on the issue, which the authorities are always trying to hide from the public. The percentage of people getting married in Iran has dropped by 3.6 percent since last year, indicating that public opinion is shifting on the matter.