Yesterday morning my traffic had enough of a surprise bump to indicate to me one of my posts must have been linked somewhere attention grabbing. With a little sleuthing. I traced the cause back to this Richard Dawkins tweet:
In response to Dawkins, people were tweeting to him a post of mine wherein I relayed a more detailed and extended version of that quote from a Maryam Namazie post from 2012. My post was getting shared on social media hundreds of times. Coincidentally when I discovered this I was talking to my Iranian friend who blogs at Freethought Blogs as Kaveh Mousavi. I asked him what he knew about this and he said that Khomeini’s defense of sex with children was common knowledge in Iran. I asked him to blog about it for the sake of clarity now that Dawkins had introduced the idea to thousands of westerners.
On his blog, Kaveh makes another translation from the Persian, highlighting more awful aspects of it previously elided by both the translations I had and that Dawkins had.
Then he offers these words of context, that I figured I would pass on since so many people are coming here to read about this topic now:
1) Based on the Iranian law, any person of any age can marry, no one under 18 can marry based on their own decision but their parents’, girls under 13 and boys under 15 need a special court permit to be married, although the law has defined no punishment for making girls marry under the age of thirteen. Before the revolution, the laws were similar but marriage under 13 was definitely banned. In 2010, more than 43,000 marriages of girls under 15 were officially recorded. (Source in Persian).
This means that the problem is much worse than I thought before fact-checking for this post. However, I’m still fairly certain that this is not the case in big cities. Here pedophilia is really a huge taboo, and the age of marriage has gone up to 30s. So, it’s clear that parts of Iran have made huge strides while other parts are still backwards.
2) Khomeini was by no means a lone voice on this. Actually, these views are still quite dominant among the Shia clerics I know of. And I think by the time he wrote that book the average Iranian wasn’t that much against him – although I don’t know if they regarded infant too much or not. But I remember my father saying that during his time if a woman reached 20 they’d considered her too old for marriage. As I’ve said before on this blog, on many issues Khomeini was a progressive for his time, and the fact that he seems so ancient and fundamentalist now is a testament of the great progress of the mentality of certain parts of Iran.
I say this because I want to mention that this is really Islam, not Khomeini. He is supporting the dominant view. This matters because this blatant defense of pedophilia is strongly rooted in religious dogma, not a particular tyrant.
Dawkins has since tweeted Kaveh’s post out.
Additionally, Kaveh told me in his research for his post he even found lamentations from a member of the Iranian parliament that too many children are choosing to divorce. And he read about those who do divorce winding up not always liberated by it. They sometimes wind up going back from abusive husbands to abusive parents or wind up forced into prostitution.
On the subject of Kaveh Mousavi, I also recommend his superb guest post on Camels With Hammers,7 Ways Westerners Can Help Ex-Muslims, and of course his regularly updated blog On the Margin of Error. And generally, I recommend my own posts on how to criticize the real evils taught or perpetuated by Islam without falling into anti-Muslim bigotry and my post navigating the various ways that religions in general may or may not be to blame for the evils that they get associated with.