Indentured servitude for men in Iran: The myth of patriarchal oppressive divorce

Editorial note: This item, first published in December 2013, is being republished to add important information noting that the number of men in debtor’s prison in Iran has been found to be higher than originally thought. –DE

This article is also available in Romanian and Farsi.

“…effectively denying (Iranian) women the right to divorce and re-establishing men’s unlimited right of divorce.”[1]

“A man may marry up to four wives and divorce them whenever he desires. But mere will is not enough for a(n Iranian) woman to divorce her husband.”[2] penned by Shirin Ebadi, the only Iranian Noble-prize winner. (She received her Noble Peace Prize for her efforts in the field of issues of women and children.)

“Iran’s rising divorce rate is all the more noteworthy given the laws on divorce. While husbands are empowered to end their marriages in a matter of weeks without stating any reason, women must establish sufficient grounds for divorce in a process that can take several years, even with professional legal advice… (women) facing such an uneven playing field…” [3]NY Times.

A quick search on the internet will tell you how much women are discriminated against in Iran when it comes to divorce. They will tell you that men have the absolute right to end marriage, and women cannot divorce their husbands if they wish. Some radical gynocentrists even tell you that a woman cannot divorce even if her husband beats her every day. So what do all these statements have in common? You can’t precisely find the similarity, because it is not just what they say; it is also what they don’t say. By the end of this article you have to decide for yourself how appalling these statements are.

When a couple decides to get married in Iran, upon registering their marriage, they announce to officials an amount of wealth and property–that their families agreed on–which the husband is mandated to pay to his wife. This is called mehrieh or mahr. Furthermore, this is just the beginning: sit tight!

The most prominent attribute of mehrieh is its value. So how much is mehrieh in a country where your average worker earns around US$270 a month? According to the Center for Population Studies of Asia and Oceania the average of mehrieh during the period 2003 to 2008 have been 450 pure gold coins[4]. The center also announced the alarming rate of increase in mehrieh, so the average mehrieh must be higher now. What’s more, the questionnaire only asked of the amount of gold in mehrieh, not the apartment buildings, lands, money, other statements in the marriage contract that may dictate the husband buy other things for his wife after they’re married, etc.

What is more interesting is that the authorities do register all mehriehs in their books. Why the need to ask people when the registry offices do have the real data? Especially considering that the state has some stigma around high mehriehs and seems reluctant to reveal the real statistics.

Personally, I have rarely seen a woman whose mehrieh is lower than 1000 pure gold coins. But let’s just go with the said 450 coins. How much is it? At the moment of this writing, 450 gold coins is roughly US$140,000. In the major metropolitan areas, mehrieh is often than not several million dollars. That is how insanely gynocentric this culture is.

Now, you are comparing this average on mehrieh with the monthly average salary of a worker, i.e. US$270, and thinking to yourself that this is impossible to pay. You are also perhaps confused and do not know what that has to do with divorce. Be patient. It is a little complicated, but it makes these simplistic suggestions made by the media and feminists scandalous.

A woman can demand her mehrieh any time she wants. Upon her suing for divorce, all the bank accounts of the accused are legally frozen and he cannot take one dime out of his bank account. He is no more allowed to sell or buy anything. Wait for the punch line:

What if he cannot pay the unbelievably high amount of mehrieh? “The Patriarchy” modified the law 2 years ago so as to go easier on men, but, let’s begin with the old law:

If the man could not pay, he would be sent to prison until the entire mehrieh was paid by him or his family. All his belongings, including his house, his land, his car, etc. would be confiscated by the court and sold as a part of mehrieh.

After decades of men being sent to prison at the whim of women, “the patriarchy” finally came up with the new law 2 years ago:

If the accused pays 110 gold coins (roughly US$34,000), one of his apartments (if he has any) won’t be confiscated, so he can at least live there. He will also be allowed to work to pay the rest of the debt monthly as ordered by the court. It is customary that the court orders the accused to pay two gold coins every month for the next several decades. That would be around US$615. A woman can live a luxurious life with that in Iran. The majority of working people earn less than that. Furthermore, he cannot leave the country until he has fully paid the mehrieh. All of this is only under the condition that the accused is proved to be working one job. If the court finds out that he works two jobs, he has to pay all of mehrieh right up-front.

The law was apparently changed to free many of the mehrieh prisoners whose families had already paid well over 110 gold coins to get their sons or brothers released from prison. After freeing many prisoners, the official statistics of mehrieh prisoners are as follows:

The chief of Iran’s Diah Center, Asadollah Jolayi, announced that last year, (Iranian’s year 1392), 20,000 men went to prison for their inability to pay Mehrieh [5].

This puts some myths in Iran’s culture to rest: When a man is in love, he is constantly asked by the family of his bride-to-be, “Who has ever paid mehrieh?” This is a shaming tactic to bring men into compliance for insanely high amounts of mehrieh which you better not believe.

Still too soon to get to divorce.

This is not the only financial responsibility of the husband. The husband is, by law, responsible for every dime spent in a marriage. According to Islamic law, the husband cannot ask his wife to spend a dime, or even consult her on how she can spend her money. Money for the expenses of life is called nafaqa, and the husband is mandated to give that money to his wife. She can sue her husband for not paying, and the court will order a monthly amount to be paid to the wife by her husband as her nafaqa.

Here is an even more interesting part: The amount of nafaqa depends on the class of the woman, but is mandated that it should not be lower than her standard of living prior to marriage. Meaning that if she used to have maids, the husband now should pay for maids. This helps to make it clear that in Iran, “deprivation” of a wife from her husband’s wealth is illegal. She doesn’t even need to sue further for mehrieh. While we are at it, in Islamic laws, a woman’s possession is her possession, but a man’s possession is the family’s possession.

This, by the way, is what feminists somehow forget to tell you, when they were screeching: “In Iran, sons receive twice as much inheritance as daughters in case of their parent’s death!”

Therefore, in a marriage, the woman is in for whatever resources her husband can provide, and she will not get much more out of her man by suing for her mehrieh. Rather, if needed, she can sue for her nafaqa.

So the unaffordability of mehrieh is actually a gun in her hands that any married woman can shoot any time she wants her husband in jail. This is apparently the “protection” of women in the old conservative cultures for every problem a woman might face in her marriage: Jail him by mehrieh! The equivalent of what is called alimony and child support in America is Nafaqa. There is no equivalent for mehrieh in the west. It is a debt the husband owes to his wife which is worth almost 200 years of salary. It is a slavery contract.

Do understand that mehrieh is leverage for almost anything desired, put in the hands of women.

So now we are ready to cross another feminist lie off the list:

“In Iran, women inherit 12.5% of their deceased husband’s wealth but husbands inherit 25% of their deceased wife’s wealth. No equality for women!” The rest of the inheritance by the way goes to children and parents.

Telling half the truth is a great way to lie, and I have got to admit, they are very good liars. Here is what was left out of the picture: mehrieh by law remains outstanding after death. Meaning:

    • Should a man die, the first thing done by the state is to pay his wife’s mehrieh out of the deceased’s properties, and if anything remains, again 12.5% goes to his wife. (The rest goes to children and parents.)
    • Should a woman die, her husband still has to pay her mehrieh to the deceased wife’s family (the ones who are the deceased’s next of kin), which almost always is much more than the 25% he inherits.

The net result is that a woman would inherit almost everything her husband had, whereas a man inherits almost nothing from his wife. All her inheritance goes to her family.

Finally, we get to divorce:

Men filing for divorce:

A man can indeed divorce his wife at any time. But this kind of divorce initiated by the husband is called Rojeie, meaning:

He is required to pay both the mehrieh and nafaqa. What’s more, if the court does not find the wife at fault for the divorce, the man also might have to pay Ojrat almesl.

Women filing for divorce (Bayen Divorce):

Either she agrees to let off part of her mehrieh, an amount of money she did not deserve to begin with, as specified by the judge, in return for her right to divorce, or:

She can extort her full mehrieh and still have the right to divorce in case:

  1. Husband is abusive.
  2. Husband has committed polygamy without wife’s consent.
  3. Husband has not paid nafaqa for six months.
  4. Husband has serious illness.
  5. Husband is mentally ill.
  6. Husband has not had sex with wife for six months.
  7. Husband has a job for which the wife feels humiliated.
  8. Husband is addicted.
  9. Husband has not fathered a child during the first 5 years of marriage.
  10. Husband is a criminal.
  11. Husband is punished (by the legal system) for something about which wife feels humiliated.
  12. Husband has been in prison for over 5 years.

In other words, if a man wants to divorce and his wife does not agree, he has to buy his way to freedom with a price that almost no man can pay.

Women on the other hand, will need to agree to lay off part of their mehrieh if their husband is not in the above categories, still perhaps get a lot of money, and move on. Think for a second what can happen with this so-called “equality” of right to divorce as defined by feminists: A woman can marry, file for divorce the next morning, and get mehrieh! Right now, if she wants to file for divorce the next morning, she will be asked by the judge to let go of part of her mehrieh, and if she does not consent, she is told that she only can get her entire mehrieh, if the husband is in one of the 12 above categories. For those who still cannot wrap their heads around this, it is not that women’s mere will does not give them the right to divorce, but rather that their mere will is not enough for the right to divorce AND mehrieh.

Now, go back and read the statements in the beginning of this article. In a lack of mutual agreement for divorce, it is impossible for almost any men to initiate divorce in Iran. But hey, feminists tell us that men have “unlimited right to divorce,” and that women need to build grounds to get both their Mehrieh and divorce simultaneously. But hey, they do not have the right to divorce because feminists said so, instead of saying that women do not have the right to both a divorce AND a mehrieh at the same time in the nonexistence of all of the 12 conditions above. How over 85,000 divorces occurred within the first 6 months of this year[5] which were mostly filed by women, is something they should ignore. After all, it does not fit well into the victim narrative.

The overall result is that you can meet many rich, divorced women who have not worked a single day in their lives. Their ex-husband is bound to pay them 2 gold coins monthly for the next several decades. She goes on trips with her new boyfriend while the ex-husband cannot leave the country.

Mehrieh fraud becomes a popular topic once in a while when some girl marries several men in less than a year and sues for mehrieh. But hey, to be fair, I am the one calling this a fraud, because many say that not paying mehrieh is the real fraud.[6] How about a little story? The story of a girl whose mehrieh was pure gold as much as she weighed. She sued for it as soon as it was recorded, before even planning for a wedding. The groom’s family were awfully rich, paid her, and divorced her. In fact this kind of fraud does not even require the woman to have sex to consummate the marriage. Don’t believe it? In case the couple have not had sex, the husband still has to pay half of mehrieh.

Speaking of frauds, it is not a bad time to mention another form of it: if a virgin has consensual vaginal sex, with a boy she can sue for mehrieh and claim that she assumed the boy wanted to marry her. Then the boy is wedded to her by force.

A logical solution to all this is to eliminate the unbelievably punitive financial responsibility slavery of men and give men and women equal rights to divorce. But feminists are not interested in that, because they know that women are already getting a much better deal in divorce than men:

“…mere will is not enough for a(n Iranian) woman to divorce her husband.”

This is what they claim, with no mention of mehrieh whatsoever! So according to Iranian feminists, women should be allowed to sue for mehrieh and nafaqa, extort an amount of money they did not earn to begin with, and their mere will should be enough for taking money and ending the marriage.

Such fine human rights activists they are. Men are in prison for mehrieh by the thousands, and feminists are whining for a draconian law that is no different from giving women the absolute guarantee of a lifelong servitude from a man.

Of course, women are already doing all this, by hiring lawyers to educate them on how to find legal ways to get their mehrieh and the right to divorce. Hell, they don’t even need lawyers for that. If you are a woman and are not good at fabricating domestic violence, just provoke somebody enough to give you a slap. Next morning, you are in one of Iran’s forensic centers with a woman issuing a passionate report to the chivalric judge, and bingo. Whatever your husband cannot pay in mehrieh, their family has to, in order to keep their son out of prison. But feminists do not like this as it might get time-consuming:

“…women must establish sufficient grounds for divorce in a process that can take several years…” NY Times.

Note also how cleverly it is written: “it can take” not “it does take.” Of course, if a woman has a forensic report for domestic violence, it is only a matter of weeks before she gets her divorce and extorts her mehrieh.

Even a woman who is a victim of domestic violence almost certainly does not deserve the extortion of mehrieh. Let’s walk through the logic: if you kill a man, you have to pay blood money to his next of kin. This is called diah, and right now is US$40,000. But guess what? Mehrieh is much more expensive than that. The worth of a woman injured, or who even claims injury, is almost 10 times than that of a man’s life!

This is their version of equality: they get funds and campaign for equality of right to divorce in Iran, yet somehow mentioning a draconian law like mehrieh, which is highly interwoven with the right to divorce, does not interest them at all.

But guys, be sure to let your issues be addressed by feminists, and meanwhile, just shut the fuck up.

Let it be clear that mehrieh is not a feminist-inspired law. It is a hard-core Islamic law that has given women of history the absolute right to throw their husbands in jail at their whim without having to come up with an explanation. But feminists have done nothing to fight mehriah or even acknowledge it. If you are paying alimony and child support, you might want to say “thank god I am not paying mehrieh and nafaqa.”

Want to hear some propaganda? How about the one published in NY Times?

“Iran’s rising divorce rate is all the more noteworthy given the laws on divorce. While husbands are empowered to end their marriages in a matter of weeks without stating any reason, women must establish sufficient grounds for divorce in a process that can take several years, even with professional legal advice.” NY Times.

Explanation of the stupidity of this sentence and the simplistic interpretation of a complicated set of laws should not at this point be needed, if you have bothered to read this article so far. But I’ll say this: Up to this point in this article of NY Times, the author has not said a single word regarding mehrieh. He has already censored the truth about it several lines above this:

“High dowries, high living costs, lack of jobs and financial support make young people fear marriage,” said a member of Parliament (regarding the increase in divorce rates and decrease in marriage rates).

Another disingenous statement. What that member of the Parliament said was that high mehriehs, which are to be paid by the husband, cause fear of marriage. Not high dowries. Dowry is the set of household furniture that the family of the bride gifts to the couple. Why did the author translate it to say “dowry” instead of mehrieh? Maybe he was just getting feminist consults? Perhaps that he did not know what mehrieh was? No, he has heard of it, he mentions it around the end of the article:

“Facing such an uneven playing field, marital lawyers say, Iranian women have increasingly turned to leveraging their legal right to a mehrieh — a single payment agreed on before marriage that constitutes a kind of Islamic marriage insurance. Husbands are obliged to pay this sum to wives when they divorce.”

He leaves this to the very end, and the fallacy of confusing cause and effect is easily detected here. Also, the husband is obliged to pay mehrieh whenever the wife asks for it, so it is not a marriage insurance. As mentioned earlier, it is a slavery contract. Find any newspaper article in English about Iran’s divorce laws. The ones that actually do mention mehrieh mention it in a minimal way to imply that this 1,400-year-old law has been recently added, as if to compensate for “women’s inequality.”

Now, who do you think really has the right to divorce in Iran? These laws seem to be there because divorce has historically been frowned-upon in Islamic philosophy. They were intended to complicate it. But in the modern Iran, attitudes have changed, and in the past decade, the rate of divorce has tripled. Recently, one out of each 7 marriages has ended in divorce, with the rate for metropolitan areas being almost 1 out of every 3.5 marriages. 30% of all divorces happen in less than a year from the date of the marriage.

Think about that for a second: there are men in Iran who now must pay several million dollars for putting their dicks in the wrong place for less than a year. In the past 5 years, things have changed so dramatically that some registry offices have been recording almost 50 divorces for every 3 marriages in a random month. One would wonder how many of these divorces have been filed by women, how many of them have taken all or part of their mehrieh, and how many Iranian families have lost every dime they had to a daughter-in-law who sued for mehrieh and got her divorce.



In paragraph 5 it is written: A research carried in 1387 by the Center for Population Studies of Asia……has concluded that the average for Mehrieh has rised from 300 gold coins to 450 gold coins.



Translation of the last part:

He [Iran’s Chief of Diah Center Assadollah Jolayi] also addressed prisoners of mehrieh and added that: “Last year, 20,000 men have been prisoned for mehrieh…”

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