Iran's Youngest Father

When Behzad married Zeinab, her 17-year-old cousin, he was 12. Now they have a son and Behzad, at the age of 13, is Iran’s youngest father.

Behzad’s mother left her when he was 2, and Behzad grows up with his step-mother and step brother and sisters. Behzad never went to school, is illiterate and suffered a lot during his childhood.

Poverty, absence of mother and precocious puberty of Behzad, as well as Zeinab’s fatherlessness and family problems made Behzad and Zeinab to marry in childhood. Behzad, his wife and son live together with Zeinab’s mother, sisters and brothers in a parking in a poor neighborhood on the suburbs of Kerman.

They live under very poor conditions. The area where they leave is usually freezing cold and they don’t even have a heater. They also have no means entertainment, no TV, etc. Zeinab’s sister and two younger brothers don’t go to school due to poverty. Behzad is a labor but is not usually employed as he is very young and weak, and because employers prefer stronger men. That’s why Behzad remains idle on many days.

Like many other couples who got married during childhood, Behzad and Zeinab are suffering a lot and face problems such as poverty, lack of education, mental and physical health, lack of facilities, lack of social dignity and a gloomy future ahead of them.

Statistics on married children in Iran are contradictory and not precise. According to the country’s Civil Registration more than 42000 stance of marriage for children between 10 to 14 years old were registered in the Persian year between March 2010 to March 2011.  Experts say, however, that this statistics rather look like an effort to deny the problem of child marriage.

Child marriage is a real, global problem which exists everywhere from the middle East to Latin America, south Asia and even Europe. South Asia has the highest rate of child marriage.

The international community cannot do anything to lower global poverty unless it manages to remedy the problem of child marriage.