Iraqi bill to legalise child marriage

2014-03-14 11:47

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.”


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.

  • Paulus - 2014-03-14 12:05

    Lets see a show of hands from out Islamic readers please. Do you support or abhor these proposed measure?

      Paulus - 2014-03-14 13:10

      No one? Except some dumb coward.

      Anneline Teixeira - 2014-03-14 13:36

      I am muslim. I abhor this! These animals are not muslim

  • Ahava Shapiro - 2014-03-14 12:05

    So the free Shia Iraqis see this as the way to go ? Those that gave them their freedom, should step in send put this right.

  • Paulus - 2014-03-14 12:10

    ""By introducing this draft law, we want to limit or prevent such practices", al-Shimmari said" LIAR!! If you wanted to prevent such practices you would have a draft law with a 16 or 18 year limit..not 9. You are a deplorable human being.

  • Nicholas von Stein - 2014-03-14 12:20

    Absolute joke, and people just get to stand behind this because its their, they're just animals. Doesn't matter what race, culture, class you come from, this is wrong!

  • WollieVerstege - 2014-03-14 12:26

    So if you are pedophile, you can go to Iraq, marry a kid and then have your way with her legally. That's efn sick!

  • David Van Schalkwyk - 2014-03-14 12:27

    Not that I have ever though the Moslem faith was anything more that a war mongering, murdering, bad tempered, attention seeking bunch of morons. But now to write a law allowing men to rap children. (yes rap children because this is no more than allowing people to rap girls as young as 9) F__king make me sick... I wish the US had dropped Nuks on you and gotten rid of you for good...

      David Van Schalkwyk - 2014-03-14 12:48

      And all you people that put the thumbs down. you are a bunch of sick f__ks and don't deserve to breath. So please stop wasting our oxygen and go bomb some people in Iraq.

  • Johan Van Der Vyver - 2014-03-14 12:36


  • Christopher Krauss - 2014-03-14 12:43

    I suppose we have to accept this, anything less and we're being intolerant of their religion, any criticism and we're being offensive.

      David Van Schalkwyk - 2014-03-14 12:58

      Why not they would criticize you for drinking a beer or having a glass of wine but it is ok for them to rap 9 year old girls...

  • David Van Schalkwyk - 2014-03-14 12:45

    If it is not the Catholic priests raping children it is the Muslims. All we need now is the Jew's and Buddhists to join in the party and every big religion will be nothing more that child raping war mongering bunch of losers.

  • Martin Pienaar - 2014-03-14 12:57

    And still the wear "parka's" (Spelling) and pray to be violated... Time to burn your br's ladies!

  • mbongiseni.s.shongwe - 2014-03-14 13:13

    damn thats pure madness right there....

  • Jenny Anderson - 2014-03-14 13:27

    Legalized rape

  • Anneline Teixeira - 2014-03-14 13:29

    Please remember. Shias are not considered Muslims by Muslims. Please google! They are completely different to us, even worship in different places.

      Christopher Krauss - 2014-03-14 14:34

      ...and protestants are not considered christians by catholics, the 'no true Scotsman' argument fails I'm afraid.

      Kevin Marsh - 2014-03-14 19:51

      No Christoper - Catholics are not considered Christian by the Protestants . The bad men in Iraq marry 9 year olds and the Catholic priests have been known to like little boys to regularly .

  • Anthony De Lucchi - 2014-03-14 13:45

    ...they have been doing this for centuries, it is not a new thing. This is their way of life, I know it is abhorent to us westerners now, but not so many years ago a similar thing was being down amoung the European ruling families albeit the young brides only got to the marital bed when they were more adult....

      Martin Pienaar - 2014-03-14 13:47

      I guess about 2 years later when they start to develop...Still SICK!

  • Faerra Bra - 2014-03-14 13:48

    @ David my point is that not all Moslems are the same so don't paint the entire religion with the same brush

  • OldNick - 2014-03-14 14:33

    Iraq seems to be a nation of disgusting perverts and child molesters, and by implication it makes Islam look like a monsterous religion of perverts and child molesters, but in fact the same can be said of all other organised religions. Isn't it time that humankind rids itself of the filthy threadbare comfort blanket which collectively are all these dreadful superstitions, perverse mythologies and dangerous belief systems which support thousands of pointless destructive traditions? It's time that humankind grows up.

  • Chris Risseeuw - 2014-03-14 17:29

    This law only serve to make Women subservient to spineless, egotistical little "men" who are to weak to deal with a Woman on an equal footing. It also takes away all and any rights for a Woman to have a say in Her own life and/or future. it's a disgusting state of affairs and any man who can say that he approves of a "law" like this one is a egotistical, weakling piece of crap.

      Sandra Nederlof - 2014-03-18 22:25

      Couldn't agree with you more. I'm so sick of reading crap like this-hiding behind a religion.

  • Kevin Marsh - 2014-03-14 19:45

    America should hav e done a better job sorting these thugs out.

  • Kevin Marsh - 2014-03-14 19:48

    Time for Iraqi women to make a stand and look after their children .

  • Sandra Nederlof - 2014-03-18 22:16

    Atrocities against children being legalised..a definite step back.I am repulsed and outraged-makes me sick.

  • Al Kazar - 2015-03-12 15:58

    I don't see much difference between religious war mongering and the moral war mongering taking place right here. Whatever happened to peoples and nations having the right to decide their own morals. This world is becoming a place where everyone is being forced to believe what others believe with no freedom of beliefs and morals. Beware of what you wish for - it could bite you in the back. I'm sure we'll all be very happy living in a Nazi world.

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