Sex education in the Islamic Republic of Iran
September 8th, 2011
01:50 PM ET

Sex education in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Editor's Note: Michelle Moghtader is a graduate student at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs. To submit pieces for consideration, email the Global Public Square's managing editor at amar[dot]bakshi[at]

By Michelle Moghtader – Special to CNN

Sex is a taboo subject in Iran, but in a rare, progressive move, the Iranian government has released a sex-ed DVD entitled Ashenayeh Mahboub or “The Beloved Companion”.

The video starts with two flowers flirtatiously swirling around each other. Then, one flower encapsulates the other. This is followed by a shot of hundreds of swimming sperm. (You don’t have to understand Persian to enjoy the first few minutes of this video, set to the sound of Richard Strauss’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, better known as the theme from 2001: Space Odyssey).

Over at the Daily Beast, Babak Dehghanpisheh reported that, “'The Beloved Companion' was given the stamp of approval from both Iran's Ministry of Health and Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. The DVD took more than two years to produce, and it was an uphill battle all the way.”

The film’s main sex counselor is Dr. Mohamad Majd, a psychiatrist and Professor of Medical Science at the University of Tehran. He is the Iranian version of Dr. Ruth, the elderly therapist who gives frank sex advice. “This information about sexology comes from various textbooks, our religion, the Prophet’s Hadiths,” says Dr. Majd in the beginning of the film.

But whatever his sources, his advice is sound and universal. Mr. Majd speaks to both women and men. “Anger and stress prevent sexual activity,”he explains. And he advises, “It shouldn’t just be the man that moves and the woman that just lays there. Move together. Women, if you want to have an orgasm, then you have to move too.”

So, why was this film released now? It’s not clear, but perhaps it was created in an attempt to curb Iran’s fast-rising divorce rate.  According to the New York Times, “Over a decade, the number [of divorces] each year has roughly tripled to a little more than 150,000 in 2010 from around 50,000 in 2000, according to official figures. Nationwide, there is one divorce for every seven marriages; in Tehran, the ratio is 1 divorce for every 3.76 marriages, the government has reported.”

Of course, economics, rising demands for equality and other factors play a role in this rising figure. But addressing sexual problems couldn’t hurt. In traditional societies, many men are unwilling to do with their wife what they would do with a prostitute or a sigheh (Shia Islam allows temporary marriages known as sigheh). These marriages can be as short as one night. During his presidency of Iran, Hashemi Rafsanjani said sigheh’s were a way for men and women to satisfy their sexual needs. "Beloved Companion" offers a more wholesome approach to improving Iranian’s sexual and marital relations.

At the end of the film, another doctor, Saeed Momtazi says, “Cigarettes, shisha, opium, alcohol and other illegal drugs can affect your sexual activity.” He continues to explain that pornography, like drugs, can become an addiction.  In a rare act of honesty, the conservative government admitted to the presence of these illegal substances in Iran. Now if only they could do the same with other problems that plague Iran today.

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Topics: Iran • Odd • Sex

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soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    "Shia Islam allows temporary marriages known as sigheh". Again women are victimised, as they are not protected, if they get pregnant. Besides who would marry these women and provide for them, after having had many one-night stands and short relationships?

    September 8, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Reply
    • abbas

      there are clear guidelines for having temporary marriages. they are not a requirement. only optional. you must view the guidelines in order to qualify for this type of marriage. the females are protected since there are contracts. for details refer to this link...

      September 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Reply
    • jas

      temporary marriage or one day marriage, just another curtain to hide the the ugly truth; adultry

      September 11, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  2. liz

    Actually according to scientific research the multiple short term marriage thing aka sigha is usemostly by older women or divorcees who approach the youngere men.

    September 9, 2011 at 7:05 am | Reply
  3. TowelHeadsAreMorons

    Put the hind legs of the sheep (or goat) in your boots so you don't get kicked.

    September 9, 2011 at 8:38 am | Reply
    • Shahin

      you are as pathetic as one can get...

      September 9, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Reply
      • TowelHeadsAreMorons

        Have you been kicked one too many times?

        September 10, 2011 at 1:46 am |
    • cramer

      Sounds like johnny-boy is speaking from experience 😉 why don't you take on someone your own size, like a cow or something and then tell us how it works

      September 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Reply
      • Josephine

        GREAT post! Daniel and I also read a LOT of books during our aegegemnnt. Communication is so important, and a tremendous amount of marital arguments have probably arisen for all of us simply due to lack of communication. I also agree with the cutting the apron strings point. Thankfully, we are both very independent people (and always have been), so this one really isn't an issue for us. However, we have seen friends who call their parents and then they all team up against the spouse. Daniel and I actually have the same love languages (which is apparently uncommon) quality time and words of affirmation. Our 4 year wedding anniversary is coming up next month, and I continue to feel more blessed each and every day!

        March 13, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Lost


      September 12, 2011 at 5:48 am | Reply
  4. RogueX


    "Put the hind legs of the sheep (or goat) in your boots so you don't get kicked"

    Haha!! This is too funny...

    September 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Reply
  5. Ali Jaghi

    its sad that this movie is used as a joking tool. People laugh while the people who made this video were forward thinkers and helping society. Shame on Zakaria for mocking this...

    September 10, 2011 at 10:43 am | Reply
    • asdf?

      Fareed didn't write this, and I didn't find it particularly derisive. It is funny to me that any modern society feels the need to be as euphemistic as too many do, but I can appreciate forward thinking at the same time. It's not an either/or issue.

      September 11, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  6. dana

    the opening sequence for the video is stolen from Pink Floyd "The Wall" !!!
    (the two flowers as male and female )

    I wonder if they sent a payment for using it ????

    September 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  7. Hugh

    Did anyone else notice the flower scene is a direct cut of the scene from pink floyds "The Wall" .... From the part where pink is losing his marbles.... I hope Iran paid royalties lol

    September 11, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Reply
    • Angel

      Posted on How about Storm Crash?Just a tgohhut.It would be better if we could see him.References :

      February 12, 2012 at 2:06 am | Reply
  8. George

    Backward, sad. Let your people find the truth for themselves.

    September 11, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  9. Lex

    What about a dose of democracy?

    September 12, 2011 at 8:41 am | Reply
  10. Mubarek AL-Amin


    September 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  11. caresser

    It's actually a cool and helpful piece of info. I'm happy that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Reply

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