Iran is an Islamic republic where Shiite Islam authority reigns supreme. In Shiite Islam, Imams are the main sources of all knowledge about religion. Therefore, an adherent of Shiite Islam is expected to seek guidance from Imams on religious matters. Islamic teachings state that for a happy family life, man and woman should live together in a firm union as husband and wife. Islam encourages subsistence of marriage and discourages violation of marriage by divorce. Islamic teachings beseech Muslims to avoid divorce at all costs. However, sometimes men and women in a marriage setting do disagree to an extent where they cannot continue living happily together. As a result of irreconcilable reasons, some Islamic married couples resort to divorce. According to Sharia law, a right to divorce is primarily given to a man. Before a man divorces his wife, it is advised that he should seek for arbitration from elders so that reconciliation efforts may be tried to salvage his marriage. If reconciliation efforts fail and it is established that the man cannot live happily and harmoniously with his wife, the man can go ahead with his divorce plans. Sharia law recommends that there should be at least two witnesses as the man makes a pronouncement divorcing his wife. Sharia Law states that a man should only divorce once and only if there has not been any form of sexual contact with his wife and only if the wife is not on menses. After pronouncement of divorce, a wife is given some time to stay in her former husbands house; the period is known as iddat. Iddat is a period given to a man and woman to finally decide if they should part ways forever or if they should give their marriage a second chance. During iddat,' a man is allowed to revive his marriage by verbally stating I take you back or physically having sexual relation with the woman. During iddat,' if the man completely refuses to take back the woman, then the marriage becomes completely dissolved. Failure to revive a marriage during the iddat means that the woman has to immediately and completely leave her matrimonial home. During iddat,' it is advisable to have at least two witnesses in case the man decides to take back the woman as his wife (Voorhoeve, 2012).
Role of women in an Irans Islamic society
There are various interpretations of Sharia law with regard to the role of women in society. Sharia Law is often invoked as a source of authority in the Muslim world. Different Islamic nations have different national and local political ideologies together with their interpretations about roles of women in society. Family Law in Islam is used to address divorce. Family law is by far the sole domain that inspires Muslims with regard to issues of divorce, marriage and women affairs. Family law is meant to avert any conflict that may arise in a family setting. In the Islamic world, a woman's proper place is to bear children and be a home keeper. The Iranian legal system is based on Sharia law, and it is patriarchal. Islam affirms male dominance; a husband is expected to be dominant over his wife/wives (Bowen et al. 2014).
Men are allowed by Islam to marry a maximum of four wives. Islamic texts are largely patriarchal. Since the rise of the Islamic Republic 1979, Ayatullah Khomeini took some steps to eliminate some symbols of Shahs time that were associated with suppression of women freedoms. Khomeini and other leaders were of the opinion that there was a need to restore traditional gender values. During Shahs rule, there was the creation of a Family Protection Law. When Ayatullah Khomeini came to power, parts of the Family protection law were annulled. Parts of the Family Protection Law that were annulled were those that seemed to be in contradiction with Sharia Law. The parts included a high minimum age of marriage, restrictions on polygamy, a favorable division of assets in times of divorce and divorced mothers being given longer periods of custody (Beck & Nashat, 2004).
Divorce in Iran
Divorce is strongly discouraged by Islamic teachings as well as Iranian culture. An Islamic religious saying states that divorce is the most reprehensible out of permissible things. However, Islams stance on marriage together with Iranian culture impact has not impeded married couples from dissolving their marriages. Iranian couples who have found it difficult, inconvenient and unhappy to stay with each other have resorted to divorce. Studies have revealed that divorce rates in Iran have increased in recent years. Increase in cases of has seen many individuals studying divorce and family law given that divorce cases have become a big business in Iran. High divorce rates are not only among Irans elites and middle class; the problem is prevalent among all social classes (Kandiyoti, 1996).
Pundits attribute Iran's high divorce rates to increase in the cases of divorce to western education, western influences, and feminism. Iran is ranked among top Islamic countries with regard to high levels of literacy among women. Government policies and statutes have in the past led to an increase in Iranian women with education holding public and private offices positions. Courtesy of women acquiring a good education, they have become financially independent. Financial independence among Iran women has contributed to an increase in marriage conflicts. Most educated women are reluctant to play second fiddle to their husbands. As a result, a good number of men have decided to divorce their educated and financially independent wives because they feel that their wives do not accord them the respect that an Islamic man deserves (Mir-Hosseini, 1999).
Courtesy of increase in cases of divorce, it is not strange that there has been an emergence of new types of parties in Iran- divorce parties. Some of the divorce parties are said to be lavish, complete with invitations (that are sarcastic) and humorous cakes. The divorce parties have received a lot of criticism from clerics who have labeled the parties satanic. The increase in divorce parties is a clear indication that cases of divorce are soaring in Iran. Studies reveal that since 2006 up to 2016, about twenty percent of marriages have been ending up in divorce. Official statistics reveal that in about two months, close to 21,000 divorce cases are reported in Iran. Official statistics also reveal that Irans judicial system is currently handling about 14 million divorce cases. Conservative Iranians have been angered by high divorce rates in Iran. Individualism has made a footing in Iran, and it is attributed to increasing in cases of divorce. Studies have revealed that individualism is more prevalent among Iranian women when compared to Iranian men. Individualism among Iranian women stems from the fact that women are becoming more educated and more financially empowered. Before women became financially empowered and educated, they had to get along with their husbands even if they were not happy in their marriages; this is because they were financially dependent on their husbands. With financial empowerment and good education, Iranian women can now easily walk away from an unhappy marriage (Dehghanpisheh, 2014).
Iranian Family Law
Irans family protection law had for a long time stifled some rights accorded to men with regard to divorce. Iranian family law was enacted in 1967 and revisions were done in 1975. Immediately after the end of the Islamic revolution, there was a suspension of the family law, and it was replaced by the creation of a special civil court that saw men being restored some of their exclusive rights with regard to divorce that had been taken away from them. The exclusive rights given to men with regard to divorce led to an increase in abuse against women and as a result, the government decided to make modifications to the law so that women could receive more protection (Bahramitash and Esfahani. 2011).
Marriage laws in Iran favor men with regard to divorce, albeit with conditions. Iran marriage laws give a husband a right to ask for a divorce as long as he can substantiate it with appropriate conditions. Article 113 of Iran family law states that a man can divorce his wife whenever he wishes. Article 1134 of Iran family law states that divorce must involve an actual utterance by the involved parties and it should take place in the presence of two just men with the couple stating that they are unable to continue staying with each other. Article 1135 states that divorce should involve precise and clear wording; a conditional divorce should be treated as null and void. Article 1136 states that a person who wants to divorce should be of sane mind, he or she should be in possession of all of his mental faculties. Article 1138 stipulates that a divorce can be conducted by an attorney. Article 1143 outlines two types of divorce, revocable and irrevocable divorce (Mir-Hosseini, 1999).
Irrevocable divorce is a type of divorce whereby a man is not allowed to take back his wife after a divorce. There are five kinds of irrevocable divorces. One kind of irrevocable is whereby a woman who is involved in a divorce has not completed more than nine years in marriage. The second kind of irrevocable divorce is one whereby the woman who is involved in the divorce is of menopause age. The third kind of irrevocable divorce is one whereby a husband has not had any form of sexual intercourse with the woman during their marriage period. The fourth kind of irrevocable divorce is one whereby a woman involved in the divorce case has been divorced at least three times. The fifth kind of irrevocable divorce is one known as Mubarat. The sixth kind of irrevocable divorce is a case that involves a Mujtahid intervention, and it occurs when a husband is not prepared to take care of his wife, and at the same time, he is not prepared to divorce his wife (Quraishi and Vogel, 2008).
Revocable divorce is a type of divorce whereby a man can take back his wife as long as the wife observes Iddah. A husband in a revocable divorce is not expected to expel his wife from their matrimonial house. However, in certain circumstances, for instance, when she has committed adultery or fornication, the man may expel her out of their matrimonial house. During a period of revocable divorce between a man and a woman, the woman is not expected to go out of their matrimonial house unnecessarily, without the mans consent. During a period of revocable divorce, a man can take back his wife by telling her words that mean he wants her back. During a period of revocable divorce, a man can also take back his wife by acting in a manner that shows he has an intention of taking her back (Voorhoeve, 2012).
In most cases, before a divorce case is brought to a court of law, a husband and a wife should have come to mutual understanding and agreement about the matter. Iranian family gives women a chance to divorce their husbands. It took some time and amendments to the family before women were given a right to divorce their husbands. Women who are unhappy in marriages and want to divorce their husbands yet their husbands are unwilling often experience a difficult time. The women are expected to prove in a court of law that their husbands are abusive, exhibit psychological problems or unable to uphold male responsibilities in a marriage. Pundits assert that increase in Irans divorce rates is not going to stop in a foreseeable future. Many women are becoming educated and financially independent. As a matter of fact, female enrollment in universities is higher when compared to male enrollment (Mehdi et al. 2012).
In 1992, amendments were done in Irans marital law that made it able for wives to access divorce. In the amendments, a wife can access divorce by proving that her husband is unable to take care of her (maint...
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