Not only are divorces expensive in Iran, but they are also difficult for women to get.

If a husband is unwilling to divorce his wife, she has to prove, legally, that he has been physically abusive, has psychological problems or has failed to fulfill his marital duties.

Unmarried couples who date or engage in hand-holding can find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

(Vahid Salemi / Associated Press) Nina and Ahmad have lived happily together in their small one-bedroom apartment for years.

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"What's remarkable about a generation born and raised in this climate is that they do not reflect the conservative laws.""Many Iranians cohabit before marriage. It's a way to date and live together and not be bound by the heavy weight of marriage in a country that handicaps its youth at every turn."To mask their mores, many unmarried couples wear fake wedding bands and memorize each other's family trees, small protections to make their phony marriages seem real in case they are stopped by police."It's just a way of self-preservation," Ansary said.

"A way to remain under the radar of orthodoxy."Like other unmarried couples, Nina and Ahmad declined to give their last names. Living together, though illegal, is "more humane" than a rushed marriage, she said. They don't "stick their noses" into her affairs, she explained."When you earn your living and …

A Washington Post journalist detained for almost six months in Iran has been indicted on unspecified charges, the country’s official news agency said Wednesday.

The case against Jason Rezaian, the Post’s Tehran bureau chief, is in the hands of the Revolutionary Court, reported the Islamic Republic... Mc Donnell)There are no official estimates on the number of unmarried couples cohabiting in Iran, where those who engage in sex, dating or even hand holding out of wedlock find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

But officials such as Siyavash Shahrivar, deputy governor of greater Tehran, say that "white marriages" are on the increase.

With about 60% of the population younger than 30, cohabitation is inevitable in Iran, according to Nina Ansary, an expert on women's rights in the Islamic Republic.

are an independent woman, nobody should dare to ask you about marriage," said Nina, 28.