Iraqi Islamists want girls as young as nine to be married
IRAQ’S current personal status law enshrines women’s rights regarding marriage, inheritance, and child custody, and has often been held up as the most progressive in the Middle East.
But “progressive” is a dirty word in Islamic circles, and the current government, dominated by diehard Islamists, has approved a draft law that would permit the marriage of nine-year-old girls and automatically give child custody to fathers.
According to this report, about two dozen Iraqis demonstrated last Saturday in Baghdad against the proposed legislation.
The group’s protest was on International Women’s Day and a week after the cabinet voted for the legislation, based on Shi’ite Islamic jurisprudence. This would allowing clergy to preside over marriages, divorces and inheritances. Protesters shouted:
On this day of women, women of Iraq are in mourning.
Said Hanaa Eduar, a prominent Iraqi human rights activist:
We believe that this is a crime against humanity. It would deprive a girl of her right to live a normal childhood.
The UN’s representative to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, also condemned the legislation. Mladenov wrote on Twitter that the bill:
Risks constitutionally protected rights for women and international commitment.
The legislation goes to the heart of the divisions in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, as Shi’ite Islamists have come to lead the government and look to impose their religious values on society at large.
It describes girls as reaching puberty at nine, making them fit for marriage, makes the father sole guardian of his children at two and condones a husband’s right to insist on sexual intercourse with his wife whenever he wishes.
The legislation is referred to as the Ja’afari Law, named after the sixth Shi’ite imam Ja’afar al-Sadiq, who founded his own school of jurisprudence.
The draft was put forward by Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimari, a member of the Shi’ite Islamist Fadila party, and approved by the cabinet on February 25.
It must now be reviewed by parliament, but the draft could very well languish, with national elections scheduled for April 30, and vocal opposition among secularists.
The good news is that secularists in Iraq have had more than enough of the idiocy of the Islamists, and according to this report atheism is growing at an astonishing speed in the country.
Atheism used to be an elitist phenomenon restricted to intellectuals and scholars only, but, today, it has metamorphosed into an all-encompassing one that is tirelessly increasing in scope.
Defenders of the regressive new law argue that the current personal status law violates sharia religious law.