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The traditional role of Iranian families and local matchmakers in arranging marriages has declined in recent years, and the country has some 350 private matchmaking sites.Clerics have lamented that many young Iranians are opting for long-term dating and informal partnerships rather than traditional marriage.
Iran has stopped providing free contraception and funding vasectomies, while state-sanctioned sermons have encouraged larger families.
There are strict prohibitions on sexual contact before marriage in the conservative country, but that can be circumvented under the Shiite form of Islam practised in Iran by "sigheh," or temporary marriage, under which a couple can contract matrimony for as little as an hour.
The government is seeking to discourage the practice and the deputy minister for youth and sport, Mahmoud Gholrazi, said there are as many as 300 websites deemed "illegal and immoral" that often encourage sigheh.
A board of mediators matches applicants after reviewing their age, education, wealth and family background.
Golzari insisted the website is not a dating portal.
A psychologist delivers a stern warning about the dangers of Western romantic habits: “In emotional or romantic relationships in the US, 93 per cent ultimately lead to divorce.” “Loving at first look or sight is, I emphasise, very dangerous,” he tells me.
Mohammad Kamand is preparing a young man for marriage at Tebyan, a government-approved website where arranged unions are strongly favoured over love matches. Profile pictures are forbidden and parents must accompany would-be couples on their first dates.A board of mediators will then match applicants, taking into account criteria such as background, age, education and wealth."We have high demand for marriage and 11 million bachelors who are increasing every day," Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Mahmoud Golzari said at a ceremony launching the site, reports AP. "The matchmaking website you are seeing today is not a website for introducing boys and girls to each other," he said.About 22% of marriages in Iran end in divorce, with rates highest among those under 30.Nearly half of all Iranians from 18 to 35 are single and Tebyan’s official raison d'être is to help the country escape a ‘marriage crisis’.Sex outside wedlock is illegal in Iran, but many young people are shunning the idea of getting married.It is believed that the economic downturn caused in part by international sanctions has made the cost of marriage prohibitive for many Iranians.