Iran and The Washington Post agree on a way to undermine the family: Temporary ‘marriages’


Iranian President Hasan Rouhani.

TEHRAN, August 26, 2014 ( – I've always argued that The Washington Post and the Islamist leaders of Iran have more in common than either one appreciates. Both believe the United States is the locus of evil in the international community; both print anti-Christian propaganda; and both support a similar plan to undermine the family.

Iran's theocratic leadership is parsing a new survey of 142,000 students, in which 80 percent of girls and women admit to having premarital sex. [1] The mullahs are offering a unique panacea for Persian promiscuity: encouraging people to engage in temporary “marriages.” [2]

Temporary “marriages,” called sigheh, are predominately a feature of Shi'ite Islam. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, a man typically has only one permanent wife – although in Sunni Islam, a man can have up to four permanent wives at once – but he can have up to 99 temporary marriages at the same time. (“I got 99 plans for my sigheh, but monogamy ain't one.”)

Seeing creeping Westernization among the nation's overwhelmingly young population, the mullahs have for years promoted sigheh as a way to allow people to indulge their sexual appetites. In 2007, Interior Minister Mostafa Pour Mohammadi said, “Temporary marriages must be bravely promoted. Islam is in no way indifferent to the needs of a 15-year-old youth in whom God has placed the sex drive.” (The legal age to enter a marriage in Iran is 15.)

A couple enters a sigheh by simple consent between themselves, although they may have their relationship legally codified. They decide at the outset how long it will last and what price the man will pay the woman (mehr).

If this sounds like prostitution, you're getting the drift of it. The Arabic name for this union is mut'a, which means “pleasure.” A 48-year-old man named Habib, who had contracted several such unions, told Nadya Labi of Mother Jones his modus operandi: “I do sigheh with women who need financial help. Instead of giving money for charity, I marry them in this way and financially support them.”

One can almost picture the paunchy, balding man approaching teenager girls, saying, Hey, Baby, I'll help you if you help me…. Understandably, most women who agree to such “help” keep their agreements secret out of shame.

To compound matters, the man — and the man alone — may break the relationship at any time, for any reason or no reason.

The inherent exploitation has led women's rights advocates to speak out against the institution. Political science professor Fatemeh Sadeghi, who lost her teaching position at the Islamic Azad University of Karaj after opposing compulsory wearing of the hijab, called the short-term arrangement “an unequal and unreliable relationship in which women agree to be subjected to sexual exploitation because they lack economic rights and a sense of security.” [3] Labi wrote, “While the ayatollahs see temporary marriage as good for both sexes, feminists point out its lopsided nature: It is largely the prerogative of wealthy married men, and the majority of women in sighehs are divorced, widowed, or poor.”

But according to the New York Times, some feminists support temporary “marriage” precisely because it severs the bond between marriage and intimacy. Shahla Sherkat, editor of Zanan, a feminist monthly, wrote that sigheh is a good option because, sexually spent, young men “will use up some of the energy they are putting into street demonstrations. Finally, our society's obsession with virginity will disappear.” (Emphasis added.)

In either case, promoting the religious recognition of prostitution inherently destabilizes the family. Then again, encouraging young men to blow themselves up – offering money for their suicide and, as such, the suicide of their family – is not exactly a family friendly policy, either, so maybe we shouldn't be surprised. [4]

But what does this have to do with The Washington Post?

Last August in the op-ed section of The Washington Post, Paul Rampell called for a “wedlease,” an arrangement the author thought entirely novel and forward-thinking. “Why don’t we borrow from real estate…instead of wedlock, a ‘wedlease’”:

Here’s how a marital lease could work: Two people commit themselves to marriage for a period of years—one year, five years, 10 years, whatever term suits them. The marital lease could be renewed at the end of the term however many times a couple likes…The messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit.

At least in prostitution and sigheh, the woman is guaranteed a set price for services rendered.

Western sexual revolutionary liberals believe they are ahead of the times. But their cries that “children are sexual beings” is but an echo of Mohammed, who married a six-year-old and consummated their union three years later. Enlightened social liberals are regressing to sixth century Arabian sexual norms that exploit poor women and leave children without a father.

Consider it yet more proof of how the sexual liberation movement hastens our slide back into pagan barbarism.


1. It sounds like many of the respondents are having a joke at the government's expense: 17 percent of people in the poll say they are homosexual. In the United States, the homosexual population is between one and four percent. It may be that Iranian society is radically more homosexual than nearly anywhere else in the world. But that percentage implies someone is offering insincere responses in an effort to chide the government – a common problem in surveys of this nature.

2. Some believe their reaction poses problems for those who present the Islamic republic as a totalitarian society. The Economist states, “The report is also a rare official admission of the unspoken accord in Iran: people can do what they want so long as it takes place behind closed doors…Their suggestion for stopping unsanctioned sex is remarkably liberal.” It's certainly more liberal than the alternative: Someone caught having premarital sex four times receives the death penalty. But exchange a few words and a trinket, and the sanctity of “marriage” covers the union.

3. For this reason, she refuses to call sigheh real marriages, using scare quotes to separate them from real marriages. She wrote: “Based on jurisprudential views that defend this custom, the goal of sigheh or mut'a is only sexual pleasure. The philosophy of marriage, however, goes beyond sexual pleasure. In the beginning of this article, I put temporary marriage in quotation marks, in order to emphasize this point.”

4. True, the Iranian government has in recent years attempted to reverse its longstanding population control measures and encourage births by outlawing vasectomies and limiting the incidence of female sterilization and IUD use, the latter of which is abortifacient. Although this complicates left-wingers' attacks on the GOP, the mullahs have made clear they are pursuing this course out of concern that a shrinking population will harm Iran's role as a regional powerhouse. They don't care about children; they just want more soldiers for the meat grinder. 

Ben Johnson is U.S. Bureau Chief of, the guest host of Nothing But Truth with Crane Durhamon AFR Talk Radio, and the author of three books. His personal website is Connect with him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.