Iran's interior minister has faced criticism from women activists after advocating the practice of temporary marriage as a way to meet the needs of young people in the Islamic state, which bans extramarital sex.
"Is it possible that Islam is indifferent to a 15-year-old youth into whom God has put lust?" newspapers quoted Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who is also a cleric, as telling a religious seminar this week.
Temporary marriage, or sigha, is an agreement between a man and a women to get married for a specified time, even for just a few days. It has long been practised by Shi'ite Muslims, who are dominant in Iran, even though it is unclear how common it is.
Sunni Muslims say it is illegal and akin to prostitution, but some Shi'ites scholars say it reflects the reality of human nature and provides for the rights and responsibilities of both the man and the woman.
"Although temporary marriage has always existed in our law, it is considered improper by Iranian culture," Shadi Sadr, an Iranian activist for women rights, told the ISNA news agency.
That concept may seem strange to many Americans, however, that's only because here in the U.S. because most of us have sufficiently come to more realistic viewpoints about sexuality and relationships. Not everyone is similarly enlightened, however. Friends who have gone to the Mormon-dominated Brigham Young University have told me that it's not uncommon for a young couple to go to Las Vegas and get married and then get divorced quickly, solely for the purpose of having sex.