In a disturbing new development, it has been revealed that parliamentarians in Iran have passed a bill to protect the rights of children which includes a clause that allows a man to marry his adopted daughter even as young as 13 years.
The bill, which was approved on Sunday, caused a lot of Activists to express alarm as the bill makes it possible for a caretaker of a family to marry his or her adopted child if a court rules it in the interest of the individual child.
Iran's Guardian Council, a body of clerics and jurists which vets all parliamentary bills before the constitution and the Islamic law, has yet to issue its verdict on the controversial legislation.
It has been revealed that the girls in Iran can get married as young as age 13 as long as they have the permission of their father while boys can get married at 15
A girl under 13 can also get married but she would need the permission of a judge.
Shadi Sadr, a human rights lawyer with the London-based group Justice for Iran, has this to say
"This bill is legalising paedophilia. It's not part of the Iranian culture to marry your adopted child. Obviously incest exists in Iran more or less as it happens in other countries across the world, but this bill is legalising paedophilia and is endangering our children and normalising this crime in our culture."
She added: "You should not be able to marry your adopted children, full stop. If a father marries his adopted daughter who is a minor and has sex, that's rape."
According to Sadr, officials in Iran have tried to play down the sexual part of such marriages, saying it is in the bill to solve the issue of hijab [head scarf] complications when a child is adopted.
An adopted daughter is expected to wear the hijab in front of her father, and a mother should wear it in front of her adopted son if he is old enough, Sadr said.
"With this bill, you can be a paedophile and get your bait in the pretext of adopting children," Sadr said. Some experts believe the new bill is contradictory to Islamic beliefs and would not pass the Guardian Council.