Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mehrieh

Who ever that came up with the idea of Mehrieh was a genius. Think about it, 90 years ago when Soghra was getting married to Nasrodine she was only 15 years old, had no education, no job and absolutely no savings. So what did they do? Her family negotiated a price for Nasrodine and his family to pay in order to "take" Soghra as a bride.
The details of Mehireh is that the negotiated price (cash, real estate, cattle, etc.) will belong to the bride and only her. She is the sole owner and has all rights reserved to her. She can demand payment either upon possible divorce or any other time that she damn well pleases and the husband must pay up, by law.
It makes complete sense to me. If Soghra decides that she does not want to put up with Nasrodine's crap any longer, she does not need to worry about not having any financial leeway to leave his wife-beating ass.
The other beautiful part of Mehrieh is that Soghra can demand that price any time she pleases, even with out the occurrence of divorce. Lets say Soghra would like to give a couple of camels to her mother as a birthday present, but Nasrodin has such a tight ass that he refuses to allow the little woman to proceed with her wish. Soghra cannot disobey her husband because remember, no education, no income, no say, right? Well, here is where the light of Mehrieh comes in. Nasrodine had promised Soghra 500 camels on the day that they sealed the deal of marriage. Well Soghra has every right to demand those camels and present them to her mother. Nasrodine has no say in that.
Mehrieh gave women power, freedom and a sense of security. It was a way for them to have some cushion in life in case of possible mishap.

Time has passed, people have evolved, we have come a long way. Women are now allowed to get an education and not just a high school one, but college as well. Women hold jobs, own homes, have 401K accounts, wear lipstick before marriage and damn it they can vote! Women no longer tie the knott between the ages of 14 and18, they have been getting hitched in their late twenties and recently not even until when they are in their early 30's. Part of the reason for that, other than the newly found independence and power, is the fact that we get to live longer than 45 years old in this century! We can have children up to 50 years old! Ahh, the miracles of science!
Now what baffles my mind to the point that I see steam coming off of my flat ironed head of hair is that people are still continuing with the tradition of Mehrieh! Families are still negotiating and setting prices on the bride. For the woman who can buy 100 camels (or a car, depending on your taste) with her own money if she wishes. The woman who has the ability to drive, go to work, and go out with friends with out the need to acquire a man's permission. The woman who owns her own home for god's sake!
Last week I found myself in the middle of a heated discussion between a couple of my friends and their parents. I had to keep checking my calendar to make sure I am still in 2008, or even the 21st century for that matter! I could not believe what I was hearing and was so shocked that I felt my hair slowly raising on the top of my head. Thinking about my foggy memory of my temporary travel back in time I can recall statements such as "you have to show your worth and respect by setting a decent amount of Mehrieh", "khodeto sabok nakon", "do not be stupid and disregard Mehrieh, it is your womanly right", "do not ask him to sign a Prenuptial Agreement, that will offend him" (the prospective bride has a job and an income where as the prospective groom is currently between jobs). I did not have a single response for this group as my feelings were beyond words. I strongly believe that arguing with such group of people gets me nowhere other than to the medicine cabinet for some headache relief.

SERIOUSLY??!! Are you kidding me? I mean there is steam coming out of my ears!!! I cannot believe that I have to explain this. We have to think about why a tradition or custom was originated, and if those reasons still apply to us in this age. Mehrieh did determine the worth and "cost" of a woman back in the freaking stone ages, for whatever reason they believed right. However, I really would like to believe that in our time (maybe we can call it the pebble ages) a woman's worth is determined by her beliefs, values, strength, education, determination, self worth, and not by her money, her family tree, and the value of her Mehrieh.
These days a woman does not need Mehrieh to be able to stand on her own two feet upon divorce. These days a husband and wife share their assests, they are equal. So when a woman is contemplating giving an apartment (or a set of cows) to her mother as a gift, she makes that decision with her husband as they have a relationship not an agreement.
So why are we continuing with the tradition of Mehrieh? I understand people's need for tradition and a sense of culture, but if we use our ever so capable brains we realize how some parts of our culture and traditions are not only not applicable, but also so ridiculous in this day and age. We, the new and improved (in some ways) species of the Iranian decent have many beautiful traditions that we can hold on to such as the Sofreh Aghd and all of the ceremonial gestures that go with our wedding ceremony. However, we need to put our custom in a colander and get rid of the ones that not only keep us from improving, but they are so negative, offensive and disrespectful to a group of us (I mean women, if you are not following me).
It shames me to think that this tradition is still being followed when so many women have fought so hard for what we have and where we are now.
Whoever that came up with the idea of Mehrieh was a genius, whoever that continues to follow that idea now, in my opinion, is not!

13 comments:

Anahita said...

I think Mehrieh is a joke when it comes to couples who live here. What are they thinking, realy! But I think it's still a fair game when it comes to people who live in Iran. I think there are still a lot of people who adopted the life style of, if not Soghra and Nasrodine, but "Rashid" and "Maryam".

mehrab said...

I am happy that finally some people (Especially Iranian women) are talking about this idiotic old tradition.
I think even today in Iran it's not a fair game to have hefty mehrieh, wedding ring, and weddings. It has become a source of business for some people in Iran.There are more then thousand Iranian men in jail because they can’t afford to pay the hefty mehrieh!
And hundred thousand Iranian men who refuse to get marry just because of the mehrieh!
I have 9 cousins in my family who refuse to get marry because the brides ask for astronomical sums of money in the form of gold coin!
Recently a far cousin of mine got divorced and his wife demanded her mehrieh, well he is now serving time in jail !! What century are we living in?

This whole thing about Mehrieh, Aroosi, etc...is nothing but a bad start in my opinion. It puts such a financial burden on newly wed couples. Why can't we make it more friendly and human? Just a simple ceremony, a symbolic ring, music, dancing, food, and a nice honeymoon instead of putting $40,000.00 on your credit card! That's a down payment for a nice house, or some ones education bill!
Have you ever as patriotic Iranians asked yourself that we who love our country so much instead of spending $20 to $40 thousand in one night we can provide couple of families with food, clothing, …, for a short period of time and help some of our fellow country men and women?

I just never understood women who want a minimum of $10,000.00 ring, huge hefty wedding, etc...all of this for who? just a one night show off so that you'd show your family and friends you've made it, you did it...?

We Iranian people do lots of bad stuff to ourselves and it's not the foreigners or aligns; it is us :-)
Thank you Shabnam to have started this blog.

DallasAccord said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DallasAccord said...

I have to say i agree with yalls discussion to the fullest. I am in the same boat currently and my fiance is wanting to a mehrieh. I'v been arguring with her why the whole tradition started and how it does not apply in the US. We have been going back and forth as to how it is a contract and can be used against me at any time. She keeps saying its an Iranian tradition and paper work so its only valid in Iran.

Can some one please confirm this? Is the Mehrieh still valid in US? Can she at any time to go a court and demand nearly 2000 gold coins from me?

Thank you!

Hassan said...

@ Dallas:

This is a very common discussion even outside Iran. I don't know why we Iranian people do not want to get rid of these non-symbolic traditions. It is just buying and selling someone.

In answer to your question I should say that if you have Iranian nationality, no matter where ever you are on this planet, the Mehrieh is a right for your Iranian wife and should be given to your bride after Nekah/Aghd/Marriage on the moment that she asks for it. Even if she does not want to live with you any more and wants divorce, you are obliged to pay her.

Consequences could be:
- when in Iran you might not be able to come outside Iran, because of the court request
- that she might even wants to put you in jail (according to Iranian law this is possible)


Think twice before taking this action, man. 'ki dadeh va ki gerefte' is not any more applicable to current Iranian girls :)

Sydney dude said...

The Mehrieh may somehow seem necessary for women who live in Iran. But I don't agree with the way it has been set up. Say the agreed amount is 1000 gold coins. Regardless of when the wife requests this amount, the amount stays the same! It may be one day after getting married or 50 years after getting married. This is unfair to men and exposes them to women who are only after their money. I think in that instance what they should have done instead was to start off at say 50 coins, then add another 50 coins for each year of marriage. What does everybody else think of this?

For those who live outside Iran, I think its pointless and backwards. It will only create unnecessary tension.

Afshin said...

I am glad that a number of intellectual Iranian women are speaking out about "Mehrieh". Mehrieh has become a business for a number of families in Iran, even those who we think are well off and do not need the money. I like to very briefly tell you my own life story. I have lived here in the United Kingdom for over 26 years, educated to MSc level. I returned to Iran for a couple of years believing that I can settle in Iran and perhaps start my own business. It did not take me long to realise that Iran is not my home anymore and I cannot adapt to that life style and mentality!, However I did manage to find a good job in a so called International Company and I was earning reasonable amount of money in 1999.
I met a girl aged 21 the eldest daughter of a reputable pediatrics Doctor and to cut the storey short got married in November 2000, few weeks before I returned to the United Kingdom with my wife. I organised a wedding which was unforgettable and everything else was done to my best ability and financial means. Before the marriage took place ofcourse, we had the “baleh boron”. The family gave me a piece of paper requesting for 1358 sekeh bahar azadi (my wife’s year of birth) amoung other things and an apartment. At the beginning I was shocked, disbelieved and speechless but soon came to terms with the reality. As I did not have an apartment in Iran, that was quickly dismissed, but during a night out with my future wife, Mehrieh was greatly challenged by my future wife and she would not negotiate anything less, because all her friends and relatives had their year of Birth as their Mehrieh. Anyway, 9 years after marriage and return to UK and completion of her education in Computer Science at my expense among other supports and guidance she had from me, supporting her to find a job at Visa International, she filed for divorce in October 2009. She is currently claiming her Mehrieh as well as she is claiming everything I have and worked for here in the UK!! She has enforcement orders against me in Iran. What she has done to me and put me through in the past two years is another story. I will not disclose details as I am writing a book about my life and marriage which I think will be a lesson to learn for other Men marrying Iranian Women in Iran. Unfortunately, majority of women in Iran marry to money not their husbands.

fatima said...

thanks to u all. I have a foreigner friend who is married to an Iranian, and now he divorced her after 30 years of their marriage life, and this woman is left with nothing. Where do u think a 55 year old and a "stranger" woman can find a job to support herself ? You can find at the end when u become weak and old that the so called " idiot tradition" would be a genius thought especially for women who live in Iran. I'm not only telling u one or two women, many women, ending up as helpers or mistresses just to support themselves because of failure marriages. Succesful marriages, congratulations! Failure marriages, men have more chances than women, believe me especially in Iran.

fatima said...

Sorry for you guys, in Iran, the groom marries the bride without knowing her well, her family backgroud, adn her attitudes. Sorry again to say than since ur tradition seem so difficult that a guy can't date a lady, unless, bale boron, aghd, aroosi is done.In Iran, u will know ur lady after everything is promised and done. knowing the lady before marrying will save the breakage of marriages. When u are signing a contract, u have to know that u will give it, mehrieh is not only given during divorce even before divorce. This is the wrong thing being done here in iran.

yatnis said...

Where do you record it after you pay it? So you don't get hit twice.

Venus said...

Mehrieh and Tamkin are the 2 faces of the same coin. The guy is paying mehrieh to reserve the right to have sex anytime he pleases. Rape in marriage is not recognized in Iran and lack of Tamkin is a reason for divorce. Dear women think twice what are you exchanging for??? Respect yourself and fight for equality and not sex slavery!!!!

Darius Ashkani said...

Mehrieh is a misandric law against men. Woman benefit greatly from it while Iranjan men suffer.

Darius Ashkani said...

Mehrieh is a disgusting misandric law that disadvantages men. Woman benefit from it while Iranian men get screwed over. Get rid of it I say.