The dating revolution
Dating websites like Tinder are banned in Iran, but about 350 unofficial dating websites are believed to exist. It relies on traditional matchmakers like Malakeh Mogadam, who has converted her home into a lonely hearts call centre.There, an army of matchmakers in her front room answer phones that never stop ringing - mainly mothers across Tehran calling on behalf of their single sons.The number of births per woman of child-bearing age has fallen from 7 in 1980 to 1.8 in 2014 - below Britain's fertility rate, for example, of 1.9.Anything that brings young adults together in a controlled way, in line with Islamic principles, is welcome, especially as the regime has an official target to double Iran’s population to 150 million by 2050.
Nearly half of all Iranians from 18 to 35 are single and Tebyan’s official raison d'être is to help the country escape a ‘marriage crisis’.She made clear that a boy with good morals but no education would not be good enough.“If you compare it to 10 years ago, expectations are higher, people are more demanding,” Mrs Mogadam tells me.“If a woman has a degree, she won’t accept someone who doesn’t.” Saba Lotfi, a 28-year-old accountancy student at Tehran University, was one of Mrs Mogadam’s visitors.
Sex outside wedlock is illegal in Iran, but many young people are shunning the idea of getting married.As a result, the regime is worried about a steady fall in Iran’s fertility rate, which has now settled at Western levels.