A 10-year-old girl was spotted in a video being forced to marry a 22-year-old man in Iran. The video which has since gone viral has sparked an online outrage across the world.
The authorities in Iran have now moved to annul the marriage and press charges against the adults involved.
But it has highlighted the plight of hundreds of thousands of girls who are forced into marriage in Iran and many other parts of the world, Metro UK reports.
The video was posted on social media in Iran and quickly garnered outrage within the country.
One Twitter account said it was ‘heart-breaking’ to see ‘the happiness in the face of the child bride.’
He added: ‘It shows she just does not understand what is happening around her.
‘It almost looks like she’s playing games with the boy next door. Shame on you all.’
Another social media user added: ‘The term #childmarriage is formal language that hides how filthy this practice is and leaves the reader with a better conscience.
‘The correct term for this is child rape.’
The legal age of marriage in Iran is 13 for a girl and 15 for a boy, according to the country’s interpretation of Sharia Law.
However, marriages can still be carried out at a younger age with the consent of the father or paternal grandfather and with permission from a court judge.
Since March of last year, there have been 43,000 weddings in Iran where the bride was aged 10-15, according to the Iranian Parliament.
Campaigners say the true figures are higher as girls from larger and poorer families, especially in rural areas, are exchanged in return for money or goods.
According to Amnesty International, some 17% of girls in Iran are married before they are 18.
A spokesperson for the organisation, Mansoureh Mills, said: ‘Girls are normally expected to live with their husbands.
‘Iranian law entitles men to engage in sexual conduct with their wife, regardless of her age, without her consent.
‘In order words, men are allowed to rape their child wives.’
The Iranian Parliament is now said to be considering moves to increase the legal marriage age, although they rejected a similar move in December last year.
Amnesty has called on the Parliament to equalise the marriage age between girls and boys and ‘take all necessary measures to ensure that women enter and remain in marriage on the basis of their free choice.’
The move is gaining support in the Iranian Parliament, with female politicians leading the charge.
Iran’s Vice President of Women and Family Affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, said: ‘The response of public opinion and the efforts of officials have yielded results.
‘Reforming culture along with the laws in confronting child marriage is a path that must be taken.’
The video of the young girl provoked outcry this month but similar reports emerged in Iran earlier this year of an 11-year-old who was forced to marry a man four times her age – who then repeatedly raped her.
Under Iran’s Civil Code, men have the right to two permanent wives in polygamous marriages and as many wives as they wish in ‘temporary’ marriages.
Ms Mills continued:
‘Child marriages are harmful to girls and women and are a form of violence against them.’
Watch the video HERE