As if dating weren't hard enough, imagine if you could get jailed or whipped for having a boyfriend. Such is the case in Iran, where young people are smart, informed, and stylish--to wit, the gals who wore Chanel shades to protest the recent election--yet are forbidden by law to date. So how do single folk cope? Increasingly, they're opting for a temporary marriage.
The marriages, called sigheh or mut'ah, simply require couples to appear before a cleric at a registry office with their ID papers, no witnesses necessary. The cleric declares the couple "married" for as long as they choose, which might be just an hour. Such unions are said to date back to the time of Muhammad, who recommended them for soldiers, presumably so the men could satisfy their sexual needs within the bounds of Muslim law. But now sigheh sites like mutah.com and nikahmarriage.i12.com are springing up, offering dating advice and profiles of singles.
Opinions on sigheh differ, with some Iranians saying prostitutes use it to dodge the law. But there are also those who know that modern love--even under a repressive regime--will find a way.