Middle East

Iran unveils matchmaking app to promote marriage

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran on Monday inaugurated a matchmaking application designed to promote marriage in the country, where authorities are concerned about the divorce rate, state media reported.

An Iranian government-affiliated cultural body launched the app dubbed Hamdam, or “companion.” It says the app will help younger people find the right mate for a “sustainable marriage.”

Reportedly there are 13 million young single people — defined as age 18-35 — in Iran. In 2019, the country reported more than 170,000 divorces and some 520,000 marriages.

Finding companions for singles and online consultations are among the app’s functions. The app also plays a social and psychological coaching role, officials said.

During a ceremony marking the inauguration, parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf said the app will help young people by using modern and scientific methods.

Komeil Khojasteh, head of the Tebyan Cultural Institute, which developed the app, said millions of single young people live in the country of more than 80 million and the “growing divorce rate and decrease in the number of marriages” are among Iran’s major problems.

Websites with similar functions have been put in service by the institute in the past but the app is designed to serve more people, said Khojasteh.

The move is part of government efforts to avoid an aging population. Iranian officials have long called for a population increase as hard-liners see the problem as a result of the cultural and social influence of the West.

Iran registered some 1.2 million births in 2019, down from 1.52 million in 2016. The birth rate in 2019 was 1.8 children per mother, down from 2.07 children in 2017.

More than half of Iran’s population is under age 35 and sexual relations before marriage are illegal.

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