Iraqi women protest against proposed Islamic law in Iraq

Sat Mar 8, 2014 1:37pm EST
 
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By Suadad al-Salhy

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - About two dozen Iraqi women demonstrated on Saturday in Baghdad against a draft law approved by the Iraqi cabinet that would permit the marriage of nine-year-old girls and automatically give child custody to fathers.

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, allowing clergy to preside over marriages, divorces and inheritances. The draft now goes to parliament.

"On this day of women, women of Iraq are in mourning," the protesters shouted.

"We believe that this is a crime against humanity," said Hanaa Eduar, a prominent Iraqi human rights activist. "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 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.   Continued...

 
Iraqi Protesters hold a banner during a demonstration against the draft of the "Al-Jafaari" Personal Status Law during International Women's Day in Baghdad March 8, 2014. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani