Concerns Over Marriages to Afghan Refugees

Concerns Over Marriages  to Afghan RefugeesConcerns Over Marriages  to Afghan Refugees

Iranian girls, who are forced to marry Afghan men by their families, face several problems including denial of birth certificates to their children, and even eviction from their home country. The marriages have several adverse social and security consequences, especially for children as they face an identity crisis.

“Lack of awareness or late realization about the negative consequences of such marriages for women and their children is one of the reasons why such marriages occur in the first place,” said Ali Akbar Mahzoun, director of the Office of Statistics and Population at Iran’s National Organization for Civil Registration.

Unfortunately, some families due to their poverty and poor economic status force their daughters to marry Afghan men in exchange for “petty monetary gains.” Afghan men become custodians of the girls after marriage and “may not behave appropriately with them.” Many of the men force their wives to migrate to Afghanistan after marriage and the women are forced there to live in poverty and unfavorable conditions. Also as the women don’t have any legal documents, they can’t defend their rights. In addition, according to Afghan laws a foreign woman who is married to an Afghan man becomes a citizen of that country, and therefore has to abide by the laws of Afghanistan.

 Social Problems

On the other hand, children who are born from these marriages also face many social problems. Without Iranian birth certificate, their rights to free education in Iranian schools and employment after fifteen years of the age, right to receive subsidy and social welfare benefits like insurance are all denied. They also do not have any right to inherit property.

According to Article 51 of the Family Protection Law, any foreigner who marries an Iranian women without the permission of the Iranian government, will be sentenced to 2-5 years in prison and imposed a cash penalty, said Farajollah Arefi, deputy head of the Majlis Social Committee.

During the last two decades, because of the war in Afghanistan, millions of Afghans fled to Iran, most of them illegally, and sought employment in various parts of the country. At one time Iran was host to 3 million Afghan refugees. Their number has now dwindled to one million after they were repatriated to their country following the end of the Taliban government and the commencement of civil rule.

“However, Afghans who saw Iran’s favorable conditions to live and work took advantage of the economic plight of some Iranian families to establish their status and gain the right to stay in the country, by marrying Iranian girls,” Tabnak News reported.

 Covert Marriages

At present, such covert, illegal marriages still occur in different parts of the country and the children born out of these marriages suffer identity crisis as don’t know whether they are Iranian or Afghan.”

The marriages mostly occur in the country’s border cities including Sistan and Baluchestan and Khorasan, and also in southern parts of Kerman and Tehran.

Unofficial statistics indicate marriages of 20,000 Mashhadi girls with foreign nationals, resulting in the birth of 22,000 children without “clearly defined identity.”

“We should raise awareness about the negative social and security impact of Iranian girls’ marriages with illegal Afghan refugees through the mass media,” Arefi stressed.

There are several instances where the men have returned to Afghanistan leaving behind their Iranian spouse and children without birth certificates. All these problems have arisen from marriage to Afghan refugees.

To prevent such consequences, Fahimeh Farahmandpour, an advisor to the interior minister on women and family affairs announced the formation of a working group in the near future to address the concerns.