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Iranian ministers have fretted for years about a “marriage crisis” in the country.

The average age when people wed has climbed since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, causing concern among officials, as well as family elders, that Iranians may stray from a traditional pious path by staying single too long.

Now a government minister says the country needs to legalize matchmaking websites to nudge Iranians to get hitched at younger ages. Mohammad Abbasi, the country’s sports and youth minister, recently said he hoped to come up with rules for what may amount to a sort of or eHarmony suited for the Islamic Republic.

“To tackle this problem, we have to find new solutions,” Abbasi said, according to Khabar Online news.

Official statistics show the average age that Iranian men marry has risen from 20 to 28 in the last three decades. Iranian women now typically become wives between 24 and 30, five years later than a decade ago, and perilously close to spinsterhood in this society. ...

Some illegal websites for Iranian singles are blocked by the government, making them accessible only with technology that dodges the restrictions. Many of the sites are geared to helping Iranians find partners for sex through “temporary marriage” rather than spouses.

Also troubling to the government, divorce rates surged to a national average of 16.3% last year, jumping more than 4 percentage points. Center for Demographic Studies deputy minister Shahla Kazemipour bemoaned the figure as “an alarming development.” In Tehran, 1 in 3 marriages ended in divorce.

Scholars have tied the trends to several changes: Women were urged to have fewer children during a population crisis decades ago, causing the most dramatic drop in fertility ever seen. As the change stuck, women became more likely to pursue careers and other interests. Women also started enrolling in Iranian universities at higher rates than men.


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