An August 12 2019 TheYouth.in article (titled “A controversial Bill passed in Iran, it allows men to marry daughters, draws flak from other nations?”) circulated for weeks after its publication on Facebook.
The article included no apparent links to additional reporting. and it claimed:
Iran Parliamentarians have moved a bill in order to protect the rights of children which includes a clause that lets a man marry his own adopted daughter considering the fact that she is 13 years old … Iran’s Guardian Council, a body of clerics and jurists which reviews all parliamentary bills before the constitution and the Islamic law, has yet to give its final verdict on the controversial legislation.
Shadi Sadr who is a human rights lawyer with the London-based group Justice for Iran, told the Guardian website that she feared the council would feel safe and secure to put its stamp of acceptance on the bill while Iran’s moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, grabs the attention of the press during his UN visit to New York.
“This bill is legalising paedophilia,” she alerted. “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 legalising paedophilia and is endangering our children and normalising this crime in our culture … You should not be able to marry your adopted children, full stop. If a father marries his adopted daughter who is a minor and has sex, that’s rape.”
First of all, the body of the article specified “adopted” daughters, whereas the title left out that context. However, quite a bit more detail was absent in the report, making it nearly impossible for readers to determine if the claim was credible.
A link to the story also appeared on Reddit’s r/worldnews:
The only articles published about the same claim referenced TheYouth.in as its source, and that original item did not include easily verifiable details. In an attempt to locate corroborating claims, we searched for individual elements of the story excerpted above.
Justice for Iran lawyer Shadi Sadr was quoted as saying it was “not part of the Iranian culture to marry your adopted child.” That exact same line appeared in a Guardian article, which bore a far more straightforward headline:
Iran lawmakers pass bill allowing men to marry adopted daughters
Another relevant aspect of the article immediately apparent to people who found it was visible at the very top of the page — above the headline:
This article is more than 6 years old
TheYouth.in’s article (after the revised headline) appeared to be a nearly exact copy of the September 26 2013 Guardian article:
Parliamentarians in Iran have passed a bill to protect the rights of children which includes a clause that allows a man to marry his adopted daughter and while she is as young as 13 years.
Activists have expressed alarm that the bill, approved by parliament on Sunday, opens the door for the caretaker of a family to marry his or her adopted child if a court rules it is in the interests of the individual child.
Iran’s Guardian Council, a body of clerics and jurists which vets all parliamentary bills before the constitution and the Islamic law, has yet to issue its verdict on the controversial legislation.
Another portion lifted word for word from the 2013 article noted that an initial draft of the bill explicitly banned marriage with adopted children:
An initial draft of the bill, which had completely banned marriage with adopted children, was not approved by the council and it is feared that MPs introduced the condition for marriage to satisfy the jurists and clergymen. This is why Sadr fears it can pass the council this time.
An October 2013 article by Al-Monitor.com described the bill as “proposed,” not settled. News about the Iranian legal controversy appeared to drop off after that initial reporting, but a 2015 article [PDF] in the Journal of Social Welfare and Human Rights broadly referenced 2013 changes to 1975 child welfare law in Iran.
According to the details in that article, a revision to the 1975 law allowed for marriage between the head of a family and an adopted child under some circumstances and with court approval:
In 1975 Iran adopted the law of Protection of without Guardian Children Act, this act was revised in 2013. Article 27 of revised act provided;”If the head of family wants to marry the adopted child, he should send her details to a court for approval. If the marriage has already taken place, Welfare State Organisation must report it to the court, upon which the decision on the continuation of the care by the same family or its cancellation will be decided.”
A December 2015 brief [PDF] submitted by Justice for Iran to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Women’s Rights and Gender Section (WRGS) noted that after the initial reporting in September 2013, the Iranian Parliament approved the changes to Article 27 on October 9 2013:
More recently, in September 2013, based on a recommendation by the Guardian Council, the Iranian Parliament revised and approved Article 27 of the Bill of the Protection of Children and Adolescents with No Guardian or Abusive Guardian and legalized marriage between adoptive parents and their adopted children. Despite the serious objections voiced by the public, Iran’s Guardian Council approved Article 27 on 9 October 2013.
The original text of Article 27 read: “Whenever the guardian decides to marry, he must submit the personal information of the intended party to the court. In case of marriage, the [relevant] institution is responsible to report the marriage to the court so to ensure the legal conditions for continuation or termination of shared guardianship are decided upon. Note: Marriage during custody or after between the adoptive parent and adopted child is illegal.” However, the revised note to Article 27 now states: “Marriage during the period of custody or thereafter between the adoptive parent and adopted child is illegal unless the court after consulting the [relevant] organization recognizes the marriage as beneficial to the adopted child.”
The August 2019 article contained outdated information and some accurate claims. It was copied from a September 2019 Guardian article about proposed revisions to Article 27 of the Protection of without Guardian Children Act in Iran. At the time the original, copied article was written, the matter was pending. In October 2013, the changes were approved. Changes to that article enabled adoptive parents to marry adopted children under specific circumstances and with court approval. It did not, as the headline falsely claimed, allow Iranian fathers to marry their daughters outside of that stipulation.