Iran has unveiled an Islamic dating application aimed at facilitating “lasting and informed marriage” for its youth.
Called Hamdam – Farsi for “partner” or “mate” – the service allows users to “search for and choose their spouse”, state-run television said on Monday.
It is the only state-sanctioned platform of its kind in the Islamic Republic, according to Iran’s cyberspace police chief, Colonel Ali Mohammad Rajabi.
While dating apps are popular in Iran, Rajabi said all other platforms apart from Hamdam are illegal.
Developed by the Tebyan Cultural Institute, part of Iran’s Islamic Propaganda Organization, Hamdam’s website claims it uses “artificial intelligence” to find matches “only for bachelors seeking permanent marriage and a single spouse”.
While having four official wives and unlimited female slaves is permissible in Iran, experts say it is frowned upon for all but mullahs and Iranian Arabs.
However, the husband only needs to get permission from the previous wife, and that’s usually a formality. In reality, polygamy has become increasingly rare among today’s urban Iranians but it still exists in rural areas.
Tebyan head Komeil Khojasteh, speaking at the unveiling, said family values were threatened by outside forces.
“Family is the devil’s target, and Iran’s enemies seek to impose their own ideas on it,” he said, adding the app helps create “healthy” families.
According to the Hamdam website, users have to verify their identity and go through a “psychology test” before browsing.
When a match is made, the app “introduces the families together with the presence of service consultants”, who will “accompany” the couple for four years after marriage.
Registration is free as Hamdam has “an independent revenue model”, the website said without explaining further.
Iran’s authorities, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have warned several times against the country’s rising age of marriage and declining birth rates.
In March, Iran’s conservative-dominated parliament passed a bill titled “population growth and supporting families”.
It mandates the government to offer significant financial incentives for marriage and to encourage people to have more than two children, while limiting access to abortion.
The law awaits approval by the Guardian Council, which is tasked with checking that bills are compatible with Islamic law and the constitution.