Iranian conservatives are panicking. The country is in “crisis,” according to one senior lawmaker; another sees a “national threat.” The menace they fear: Divorce. Iran’s rate has tripled over the past decade, to a little more than 150,000 a year, or one in every seven marriages, the New York Times reports. And in Tehran, the numbers are even higher. “In May, a registry office I work with recorded 70 divorces and only three marriages,” one lawyer said.
The biggest reason for the spike is that women are becoming more empowered, with 20% now holding jobs—compared to 7% after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In Iran’s universities, women outnumber men two to one. “In the past, if a wife left her home, she would go hungry,” says one Iranian sociologist. “Now there is a degree of possibility of finding a job.”