It is the last thing Iran’s religious rulers want to talk about, but they may just have to. An official report has documented the nation’s worst-kept secret: sex of every kind is taking place outside the marital bed in the Islamic Republic. Something, in the ruling ayatollahs’ view, must be done.
An 82-page document recently issued by Iran’s parliamentary research department is stark in its findings. Not only are young adults sexually active, with 80% of unmarried females having boyfriends, but secondary-school pupils are, too. Illicit unions are not just between girls and boys; 17% of the 142,000 students who were surveyed said that they were homosexual.
In Tehran, the capital, long known for its underground sex scene, chastity is plainly becoming less common. The scope and pace of change are challenging the government and posing a headache for the clerics who dispense guidance at Friday prayers.