AT A loss to explain why most youngsters are delaying marriage or altogether shunning the idea of a happy union, Iran’s government is taking action. In Hamedan province, a senior ayatollah recently warned unmarried public workers to find a spouse within a year or risk losing their jobs. A gentler approach, announced in January, is the launch of a matchmaker website which, the government hopes, could lead to as many as 100,000 marriages.
In any case, under-30s, who make up 55% of Iran’s population of 77m, seem far more interested in brief flings than marriage. Hence some 300 “immoral” Western-style dating websites have sprung up of late. Unable to close them all down, the state’s moral guardians have decided to turn matchmaker instead.As in Turkey, it is very unlikely that this latest attempt to get women back into their traditional roles will succeed.
For some, tying the knot has simply lost its appeal. Women make up more than 60% of university students and the better-educated no longer long to be wives first.As is always true, education changes the way the world works. This is what the Enlightenment has been about--it is what has led to low mortality, which is why we can have low fertility and still have growing populations. It is how women discover that they are not inferior to men, and it is hard to put that genie back in the bottle, no matter how hard Turkey and Iran may try.