In 2013, Parliamentarians in Iran passed a controversial bill purportedly to protect the rights of children which includes a clause that allows a man to marry his adopted daughter while she is as young as 13 years.
The bill opened the door for the caretaker of a family to marry his or her adopted child if a court rules it is in the interests of the individual child.
Girls in the Islamic republic can marry as young as 13 provided they have the permission of their father. Boys can marry after the age of 15.
In Iran, a girl under the age of 13 can still marry, but needs the permission of a judge.
Prior to the clearance of the controversial legislation, marrying stepchildren was forbidden under any circumstances in Iran.
Shadi Sadr, a human rights lawyer with the London-based group Justice for Iran, told the Guardian "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."
The bill prompted backlash in Iran with the reformist newspaper, Shargh, publishing an article warning about its consequences. "How can someone be looking after you and at the same time be your husband?" the article asked.
Shiva Dolatabadi, head of Iran's society for protecting children's rights, has also warned that the bill implies that the parliament is legalising incest. "You cannot open a way in which the role of a father or a mother can be mixed with that of a spouse," she said, according to Shargh.
(Source The Guardian)