Stand with Iraqi Women Defending Their Rights!
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On November 1st, 2017, a proposal was presented to the Iraqi Parliament to amend the Iraqi Personal Status Code (Law No. 188 of 1959) which upholds a range of women’s legal rights on marriage, divorce, inheritance, alimony, child custody and beyond. The proposed amendments fundamentally question the basis of women’s legal rights along conservative and sectarian lines.
Demand the Speaker of the Iraqi parliament Saleem Al-Jubouri and Iraqi MPs reject this proposal. Support the brave women fighting this proposal!
But why is this draft law a threat? Because it breaks with the achievements of the existing Iraq Personal Status Code in terms of women's rights, including:
- Essential rights uphold equal treatment in marriage, divorce, inheritance, alimony and child custody. Iraqi women’s rights activists have been pushing for more rights, not less. The proposed amendments - concerning the Personal Status Code on women’s equal treatment in the context of marriage - constitute a radical questioning of the existence of women’s rights through alternative conservative religious regimes of rights that consider women legal minors.
- The unifying Personal Status Code gathers all Muslims - Sunni and Shi’a -under one law. Iraqi women’s rights activists believe that given the deeply sectarian division of Iraqi society and the violent social and political crisis that has exacerbated since 2003, preserving a unifying code is also a key part of Iraqi unity as a whole. Preserving the possibility of marriage between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims is fundamental in a context of general sectarian violence.
- The legal age of marriage is fixed at 18 years old for all genders. Introducing sectarian codes such as the Jaafari Law allows the marriage of girls as young as 9 years old and introduction of different forms of precarious marriage that do not guarantee the basic rights of women. In a context of widespread impoverishment and a security vacuum, Iraqi women’s rights activists have long warned the world about the proliferation of child marriages and unions outside the civil courts.
- The authority of the state appointed judges in matters of legal rights. Opening the possibility of religious courts in a context marked by the rise of harsh conservative religious and social forces is a clear danger to women. Since 2003, the Iraqi street has been dominated by armed conservative religious and sectarian groups, preserving the authority of a state appointed judge is essential in such a context.
Iraqi women want more rights, not the questioning the limited ones that exist.
Also check out the video of the Campaign about Child Marriage in Iraq
Iraqi Transnational Collective
Women Now For Development
Zahra Ali (Rutgers University)
Nadje Al-Ali (Centre for Gender Studies, SOAS)
Ali Issa (War Resisters League)
Safaa Khalaf (Iraqi journalist and researcher)
Mariah Al-Abdeh (Executive Director Women Now For Development)
Aysha Al-Fekaiki (LSE)
Khaled Al-Hilli (CUNY)
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