White Marriage (Cohabitations) in Iran

Religious and customary norms define relations between men and women and their relationships in Iran, and the relationship of the couple is considered illegitimate and criminal except in the form of permanent and temporary marriage. Harsh economic conditions such as stagnation and unemployment on the one hand, and the emergence of modernity and normative-value changes on the other hand, have however led young people to live together without formal marriage. This ‘white marriage’ has changed Iranian society in recent years and now it is a rational solution to meet their personal and social needs, since they do not then have the legal and social responsibilities and economic burden of formal marriage.

Diagram . How participants met their partners

Diagram . How participants met their partners

This phenomenon is more prevalent among educated and post graduate young people who have migrated to metropolitan areas for work and education. The Iranian authorities have not thoroughly studied this social phenomenon because of religious and cultural sensitivities. The information and data arising from the present study were collected using in-depth interview techniques (Grand Theory / GT). Factors examined included the changing life styles and views about marriage of young people, their right to choose their own futures and their right to bodily autonomy. In this first time study, problems and limitations of permanent marriage for women, the economic bottlenecks, the lack of proper employment and the avoidance of religion are the most important reasons which emerge from the research as facilitating the continuation of white or homosexual marriage.
After a comprehensive review of the social and legal foundations of White Marriage (Cohabitations), this research analyses the affected factors and their implications. Strategies have also been proposed for effective steps to reduce the negative consequences of this social phenomenon, as well as raising public awareness about it.

Diagram . The age range of interviewees

Diagram . The age range of interviewees

One pattern that has emerged today because of changing attitudes of young people in today’s society is white marriage, which has become one of the social challenges. White marriage is the way of life without registering a formal and legal marriage that is accepted differently among young people. The purpose of this study is to study the status of white marriage among young people who have experienced this lifestyle, the causes of the tendency to this lifestyle and its consequences, in three metropolises, including Tehran, Mashhad, and Isfahan. The theoretical framework of this research was interpretative and qualitative methodological framework, along with a grounded theory that was used to determine the effective on changing young people’s attitude towards marriage, including law, religious and custom. Some environmental factors such as religiosity, tendency of individuals to official marriage and its reasons, incidence of pregnancy and abortion, and Importance of virginity were studied. The existence of laws, traditions and religious beliefs related to these factors in Iranian families has led to a change in young people’s attitudes towards formal marriage and their greater desire to continue the relationship and choose white marriage. The results of the research indicated that the social rules, religious and custom, which are governing, are involved in determining the phenomenon of cohabitation. Lack of acceptance by society and family, lack of legal protection and having a secret relationship are some of the limitations of this way of life.

House with Open Door
A Comprehensive Research Study on White Marriage (Cohabitation) in Iran
English Publishing: Mehri Publication, London-UK (2019)
Persian Publishing: Shirazeh (under print)

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Diagram . Extent to which families and friends of interviewees knew about their cohabitation

Diagram . Extent to which families and friends of interviewees knew about their cohabitation

This book on White Marriage (Cohabitations), like other recent reports by Kameel Ahmady, all linked by common themes, continues to develop previous research on the topics of temporary marriage. This research is published under the title Home with Open Door: research on white marriage in Iran. For the first time in Iran it will reveal the hidden and wide-angle aspects of this phenomenon at macro level, with an emphasis on the Tehran, Mashhad and Isfahan metropolitan areas. A summary of this research as well as articles are also available on the author’s personal website via the link below.

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