Iranian authorities have launched an internet dating website in response to high divorce rates among the youthful population.
On average 22% of marriages end in divorce in Iran, and that figure is even higher in the capital, Tehran. Officials are worried by the fact that most divorces occur between couples under 30-years-old, the country’s largest demographic group, writes Nassim Hatam for the BBC.
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Site designed to combat rising divorce rates in Iran
The plan was announced by Mahmoud Golrazi, the deputy minister for Sports and Youth Affairs, who said that he hoped that the site would lead to “100,000 marriages” in order to “solve the problem of marriage among young people.”
The site is named hamsan.tebyan.net and is managed by the Islamic Development Organization, an institution that promotes an Islamic lifestyle. Although initially only available in Tehran, there are plans to extend the service to other cities in Iran.
Users are asked to provide details such as their height and weight, as well the occupation of their parents. There are no questions about hobbies, musical tastes or favorite films. Restrictions put in place by religious authorities prevent users from looking at other people’s profiles or photos as the practice is thought to be immodest.
Mixed response from Iranians
Another break from the traditional model of dating sites is that web administrators are responsible for matching “compatible” couples based on their profiles.
“It is so hard to meet people in Tehran, and this is a good option for people who come from traditional families,” said one young Iranian. However others complained of a lack of trust in the match-making process, calling it “entirely arbitrary.”
The site is designed to draw users away from Western-style dating websites which contain what Golrazi calls “illegal and immoral” content. Other websites are run by religious clerics and are permitted by the government.
Both existing religious sites and the new government-run operation are designed to encourage marriage and prevent the further increase in divorce rates in Iran. Placing the responsibility for match-making in the hands of strangers may mean that some Iranians are less trusting of the service, but more conservative families in Iran may appreciate the influence of a trusted individual.