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Wednesday 4 September 2019

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The 11-year-old's groom was said to be 22 years of age although some reports said he was as old as 33. (screen grab)

The girl is said to be around 11. The man is reportedly twice her age. They were recently wed in a remote southwestern Iranian province with a video of the ceremony posted online.

Shock and outrage followed and within days authorities in the province of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad announced that the temporary marriage between the child and the man has been annulled.

In the video, the small girl in a vibrant local bridal gown is seen sitting next to a man in a white shirt who looks old enough to be her father.

Iranian Marriage Annulled After Man Weds 11-Year-Old Girl
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A man, later described as a cleric, is heard officiating the matrimonial ceremony and asking the consent of the child bride three times, in accordance with Iranian tradition.

"With the consent of my mother and father, [I do]," the child finally says while quickly covering her face. Cheers and loud clapping follow.

The provincial prosecutor, Hassan Negin Taji, told the semiofficial ISNA news agency that indictments had been issued against the groom, the caretakers of the child, and the cleric who officiated the ceremony because the marriage violated Article 50 of Iran's family law, which states that if a man marries a girl who has not reached the legal age he will be sentenced from six months to two years in prison.

'Temporary Marriage'

Iran's legal age for girls to be married is 13 with parental consent -- but girls younger than that can only be married with permission from a judge. For boys, the legal age for marriage is 15.

Taji said the child and the man had entered a "temporary marriage" to get to know each other without violating Islamic norms and were due to be officially wed in six years.

He said the girl was in her 11th year, according to a copy of her birth certificate, and that the man is 22. Some reports said the girl was only nine and the man was 33 years old.

"We realized that the girl has little awareness at such a young age and it's not advisable for her to be in a temporary marriage," Taji told ISNA on September 3.

"Therefore, the wedding contract was annulled so that they can get married in due time after obtaining permission from a court," he said.

The video was posted online by journalist Javad Heydarian, who later said he wanted to create "a public warning" to help prevent such marriages from taking place.

'Not The First Time'

He said child marriages in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad are not widespread, but added that they're also not rare.

"This is not the first or the last time [such a marriage will occur]," he said.

The incident led to renewed calls for raising the legal age of marriage in Iran for girls and boys, where thousands of child marriages are recorded every year.

Last year, the parliamentary Committee For Judicial and Legal Affairs rejected a motion to ban the marriage of girls younger than 13 amid opposition from deputies who claimed such a restriction would contravene Islamic law.

Lawmaker Parvaneh Salahshouri suggested that a higher authority had told her colleagues to oppose the motion. She did not elaborate on her claim.

"We haven't lost hope, but the conditions [to get such a law passed] are very difficult," she said in an interview with the official government news agency IRNA.

According to statistics released by Iran's National Organization for Civil Registration, from March 2013 to March 2017, 1,007 girls under the age of 10 and more than 190,000 girls younger than 14 were married in Iran.

Yevgeny Kovalenko during a court hearing in Moscow on September 4.

A Moscow court has sentenced activist Yevgeny Kovalenko to 42 months in prison for assaulting a police officer during an opposition rally in July.

The court handed down the sentence on September 4, ruling the 48-year-old Kovalenko was guilty of pushing one officer and of throwing a trash can at another while participating in an unsanctioned rally in the capital on July 27.

Kovalenko pleaded not guilty during the trial, saying his "actions were dictated by the lawlessness of the situation and were aimed at preventing the beating of people by police forces."

While dozens of protesters detained at the rally have since been fined or given jail sentences of up to 30 days for organizing and participating in the unsanctioned rally, the charges against Kovalenko were much more serious and carry a prison sentence of up to five years, which prosecutors had sought.

The rally, and several in the weeks that have followed, were sparked by a decision by Moscow election officials to bar some opposition candidates from Moscow City Duma elections to be held on September 8.

Authorities claimed the candidates, most of whom were opposition members, had insufficient signatures on nominating petitions, a claim the nominees dispute.

The 45 members of the Moscow City Duma hold powerful posts -- retaining the ability to propose legislation as well as inspect how the city’s $43 billion budget is spent.

Nearly 1,400 demonstrators were held after the July 27 rally, independent political watchdog OVD-Info has said, and security officials in Moscow have been condemned by rights groups and many Western governments and organizations for a "disproportionate" use of force in breaking up the demonstration.

The police crackdown was one of the harshest in recent years against an opposition that has grown more defiant while denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hold on power.

A September 3 survey by the Levada Center showed that 45 percent of respondents felt independent candidates were denied access to being put on the ballot because Moscow authorities "are in competition" with them. The same number also felt law enforcement acted unreasonably when detaining protesters at the rallies.

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