We were as shocked as anyone would be when it recently came to our attention that a new Iraqi law has been approved which would legalise child marriage. We were also saddened to see that the very little coverage on what is a truly devastating blow to the defence of human rights in Iraq.
The draft law, dubbed the ‘Ja’afari Personal Status Law’, seeks to legalise the marriage of girls as young as nine, amongst a range of other repressive and discriminatory legislations based on religion and gender. The law seeks to amend Iraq’s Personal Status Law (1959) which is known to be one of the most liberal and secular in the region. Worryingly, this law has already been approved by the Council of Ministers on February 25th 2014 (21 out of a total of 29 ministers voted in favour), and will be voted on by the parliament following Iraq’s legislative elections, scheduled for April 30th 2014.
Among the measures it seeks to codify into Iraqi law are the following:
1. Lowering the marriage age for girls to nine, and fifteen for boys
2. Wives must seek permission from their husbands before leaving the house
3. Muslim men will be prohibited from marrying non-Muslim women
4. Granting husbands the legal right to have sex with their wives without her consent
5. Granting custody to the father over any child over two years old in the case of a divorce
6. Girls below the age of nine can be legally married with the consent of her parents
Please join our call and sign this petition. We are extremely concerned and deeply saddened by the potentially devastating impact of this law on the lives of Iraq’s most vulnerable. This law will have extremely grave consequences on the very children who were born into a war-torn Iraq, an Iraq with no education, no safety, and millions with no family. Iraqi women and children are some of the most vulnerable of the world, and it is precisely due to this fact that we have to make a stand as an international community to defend and protect their dignity and their rights as fellow human beings. Our governments and ‘interventions’ have done enough damage. We cannot let the Iraqi government of cronies sign away the rights of women and children with such impunity.
The Arab Human Rights Academy (AHRA) is the first and only not-for-profit organisation of its kind, founded and run in London by the diaspora community with the purpose of defending human rights in the Arab world. For more information, please visit our website.