Mar 19, 2014

Iraqi bill girls divorce at 9

Iraqi bill girls divorce at 9, A BILL before Iraq’s parliament will allow girls to get divorced at age 9, which raises the question – how old are these girls when they are getting married?

The bill, the Jaafari Personal Status Law, sets out rules to do with inheritance, marriage and divorce.

But the part of the bill that has provoked by far the most anger has been the one regarding the marriage and divorce of young girls in Iraq, where a quarter of women are married before the age of 18, according to a 2013 study by the Washington-based Population Reference Bureau.

Other clauses have been ridiculed include another article which would require a wife to have sex with her husband whenever he demands, conditions under which mothers must breastfeed their children and how many nights a polygamous man must spend with each wife and how he may use additional nights.

Supporters of the draft, named after a Shiite Muslim school of jurisprudence, say it simply regulates practices already existing in day-to-day life.

Opponents say the bill represents a step back for women’s rights in Iraq, and worry that it could further fray already fragile sectarian ties between the country’s various communities amid heightened violence ahead of April parliamentary polls.

Analysts have, however, dismissed the bill as politicking, and say it is highly unlikely to make it through Iraq’s Council of Representatives.

“The draft law is a humanitarian crime and a violation of children’s rights,’’ said Hanaa Edwar, a well-known activist and head of the charity Al-Amal (’Hope’ in Arabic).

“It turns women into tools for sexual enjoyment. … It deletes all their rights.’’

Edwar’s criticism has been echoed by a wide variety of opponents, ranging from domestic foes to New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) and even the UN envoy to Iraq who said the bill “can contribute to the fragmentation of the national identity.’’

“The bill will reverse the gains made to protect and advance women and girls’ rights that are protected by the constitution,’’ Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement this month.