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Wife or Strife

If you thought being married to your job was bad, pity the Iranians who have to be married for their job.

A major Iranian state-owned company has told its single employees to get married by September or face losing their jobs, the press reported on Tuesday.

“One of the economic entities in the south of the country has asked its single employees to start creating a family,” the hardline Kayhan daily reported.

The paper did not mention the name of the company but the reformist Etemad newspaper said that the firm is the Pars Special Economic Energy Zone Company — which covers Iran’s giant gas and petrochemical facilities on the shores of the Gulf.

“Unfortunately some of our colleagues did not fulfil their commitments and are still single,” Etemad quoted the company’s directive as saying.

“As being married is one of the criteria of employment, we are announcing for the last time that all the female and male colleagues have until September 21 to go ahead with this important and moral religious duty.”

The giant energy zone of refineries is located on Iran’s southern coastal energy hub Assalouyeh where temperatures reach 50 Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in summer, hardly a place for families.

The workers are usually young males seeking to earn a good income and the decree appears aimed at making them marry to ensure they eschew sexual temptations during their stay away from home.

Sexual relations outside of marriage are illegal in Iran — for the most part a traditional society where young people normally are encouraged by their families to marry in their 20s and swiftly bear children.

The country is also in the midst of an unprecedented moral crackdown which has seen tens of thousands of women warned by the police for dress deemed to be unIslamic.

However officials have lamented the relatively low numbers marrying in recent years, a trend encouraged by a difficult economic situation where newly-weds struggle to pay for weddings, let alone buy a home.

Around 12 million Iranians are umarried and aged between 15-29 but there were only 840,000 marriages last year, according to the head of Iran’s youth organisation Ali Akbari.

In a similar warning, the governor of the eastern province of North Khorasan has said only married civil servants will be allowed to take up official posts in the region.

“Officials who are single must marry before being authorised to take up their posts,” the student ISNA news agency quoted Mohammad Hossein Jahanbakhsh as saying.

“A mayor can only take up their responsibilities in a town in the region if they are married,” he added.

Update: It’s apparently not just Iranians who need to marry to keep their jobs, but rather anyone working for the Iranian companies concerned. This from the BBC talkbacks.

I am employed in Iranian company in Berlin and they told me to get married or they fire me. I am not Muslim I come from Czech republic. I have one month to get married although i have no girlfriend. What am I to do? Please help help.
Zdenek Smetanka, Berlin

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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