Iraqi bill to legalise child marriage

2014-03-14 11:47
A girl studies at an orphanage in Baghdad, the director of the shelter says that she will not allow marriage of minors at her orphanage, despite a contentious civil status draft law. (Karim Kadim, AP)

A girl studies at an orphanage in Baghdad, the director of the shelter says that she will not allow marriage of minors at her orphanage, despite a contentious civil status draft law. (Karim Kadim, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Baghdad - A contentious draft law being considered in Iraq could open the door to girls as young as 9 getting married.

The law would also require wives to submit to sex on their husband's whim, provoking outrage from rights activists and many Iraqis who see it as a step backward for women's rights.

The measure, aimed at creating different laws for Iraq's majority Shi’ite population, could further fray the country's divisions amid some of the worst bloodshed since the sectarian fighting that nearly ripped the country apart after the US-led invasion.

It also comes as more and more children under 18 get married in the country.

"That law represents a crime against humanity and childhood," said prominent Iraqi human rights activist Hana Adwa.

"Married underage girls are subjected to physical and psychological suffering.”

Backhanded

Iraqi law now sets the legal age for marriage at 18 without parental approval. Girls as young as 15 can be married only with a guardian's approval.

The proposed new measure, known as the Jaafari Personal Status Law, is based on the principles of a Shi’ite school of religious law founded by Jaafar al-Sadiq, the sixth Shi’ite imam.

Iraq's justice ministry late in 2013 introduced the draft measure to the cabinet, which approved it last month despite strong opposition by rights groups and activists.

The draft law does not set a minimum age for marriage. Instead, it mentions an age in a section on divorce, setting rules for divorces of girls who have reached the age of 9 years in the lunar Islamic calendar.

Since the Islamic calendar year is 10 or 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, which would be the equivalent of 8 years and 8 months old.

The bill makes the father the only parent with the right to accept or refuse the marriage proposal.

Critics of the bill believe that its authors slipped the age into the divorce section as a backhanded way to allow marriages of girls that young.

Already, government statistics show that nearly 25% of marriages in Iraq involved someone under the age of 18 in 2011, up from 21% in 2001 and 15% in 1997.

Planning ministry spokesperson Abdul-Zahra Hendawi said the practice of underage marriage is particularly prevalent in rural areas and some provinces where illiteracy is high.

Also under the proposed measure, a husband can have sex with his wife regardless of her consent.

The bill also prevents women from leaving the house without their husband's permission, would restrict women's rights in matters of parental custody after divorce and make it easier for men to take multiple wives.

Parliament must still ratify the bill before it becomes law. That is unlikely to happen before parliamentary elections scheduled for 30 April, though the cabinet support suggests it remains a priority for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's administration.

Al-Maliki is widely expected to seek a third term.

Baghdad-based analyst Hadi Jalo suggested that election campaigning might be behind the proposal.

Iraqi Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimmari, a Shi’ite, has brushed off the criticism of the bill. His office introduced a companion bill that calls for the establishment of special Shi’ite courts that would be tied to the sect's religious leadership.

Al-Shimmari insists that the bill is designed to end injustices faced by Iraqi women in past decades, and that it could help prevent illicit child marriage outside established legal systems.

"By introducing this draft law, we want to limit or prevent such practices", al-Shimmari said.

But Sunni female lawmaker Likaa Wardi believes it violates women's and children's rights and creates divisions in society.
- AP
Read more on:    nouri al-maliki  |  us  |  iraq  |  child abuse  |  gender equality  |  human rights
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
31 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!
Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.