A couple stands in front of a jewelry shop at the Grand Bazaar in central Tehran October 7, 2015. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi
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When Sadegh married his college sweetheart, he never thought he'd end up as one of those Iranians facing ruin and even prison because of huge sums demanded by his wife's family. But the "mehrieh" (affection) system, in which future husbands agree to pay a number of gold coins to the bride in the event of divorce, has left thousands of men in Iran languishing in jail and many more destitute.Each gold coin is worth around 10 million rials ($300). A worker on Iran's average wage would need 50 years to earn 800 gold coins."Even when the problems started and we talked about separation, it was supposed to be mutual and no mehrieh was going to be paid," said Sadegh, who spoke to AFP on condition that his full name not be used.But then his wife's family got involved, and suddenly Sadegh found himself in court where he was told to pay 110 coins instantly or go to jail.Now the payment is usually delayed and brandished against men as a threat in case of divorce, or even worse, is used by unscrupulous families for extortion.
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