Iran's Temporary Marriage
by Vickram H
Anonymous in the West, temporary marriage is, basically, a contractual deal between a man and a woman who decide to be married for an agreed period of time varying from one hour to 99 years. This custom is practiced among the Shiites of Iran and Iraq, although not a part of Quranic teachings. In Iran, a man - bachelor or married, and a woman - virgin, divorced, or widowed, can, at any time enter into a temporary marriage contract, commonly known as sigheh or nekah-e-monghate'e.
In a temporary marriage contract, no registration or witness is required. As per the proponents of this arrangement, it is considered as a means of curbing free sex and control prostitution. Also, the arrangement allows a man to have 'sigheh' wives to an extent that is affordable by him. But a woman, on the other hand, is allowed to enter only one such relationship at a point of time. Moreover, the woman is also paid the compensation amount before entering the contract.
However, no couple can enter another contract before completing a waiting period of three months or an elapse of two menstrual cycles. This waiting period is referred as 'edda'. The trend of temporary marriage is, conversely, not liked by the educated middle class families. Also, some women are predisposed to think it as legal prostitution and, therefore, oppose the trend. This trend is, therefore, practiced more commonly by women who are either divorced or widowed. Additionally, the trend is also popular among theological seminaries and the clergy.