Iran launches matchmaker app as fertility rates drop

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran, facing declining fertility rates, has launched a state-approved matchmaking app to promote marriages in the Islamic country that restricts contact between unrelated men and women.

Hamdam (Companion), developed by a state-affiliated Islamic cultural organization, requires users to verify their identity and performs psychological compatibility tests and gives advice to young singles looking for a marriage partner.

The app offers matchmaking and counseling services to potential couples and their families, and stays in touch with them for four years after marriage, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Western-style dating is prohibited by Iranian Islamic laws, but many young people reject traditional arranged marriages and want to decide their own future.

Officials have expressed concern that Iran’s population may be among the oldest in the world for two decades after Iranian women’s fertility rate fell 25% in the past four years, according to Iranian media. The fertility rate is around 1.7 children per woman.

Iran began to reverse its family planning policies a decade ago, making contraception, which was available free, increasingly difficult to obtain.

In 2014, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued an edict that population building “would strengthen national identity” and fight “unwanted aspects of Western lifestyles”.

Iran’s parliament has passed provisions providing financial incentives for childbirth and marriage, including loans and grants to young married couples with multiple children.

(Report from the Dubai Newsroom)

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