Human Rights Watch to Iraq: yo, don’t legalize marriage for 9-year-olds.
Iraq’s Council of Ministers should withdraw a new draft Personal Status Law and ensure that Iraq’s legal framework protects women and girls in line with its international obligations. The pending legislation would restrict women’s rights in matters of inheritance and parental and other rights after divorce, make it easier for men to take multiple wives, and allow girls to be married from age nine.
The draft law, called the Jaafari Personal Status Law, is based on the principles of the Jaafari school of Shia religious jurisprudence, founded by Imam Jaafar al-Sadiq, the sixth Shia imam. Approved by the Council of Ministers on February 25, 2014, it must now be approved by the parliament to become law.
And what are his dates? Jaafar al-Sadiq, the sixth imam? 702-765 CE. Here’s a thought: how about not looking to imams who lived 13 centuries ago for guidance in making new laws? How about actually thinking about human beings and their needs, instead of taking instruction from a sixth or fifth or seventh imam?
The draft law would cover Iraq’s Shia citizens and residents, a majority of the population of 36 million. It includes provisions that prohibit Muslim men from marrying non-Muslims, legalizes marital rape by stating that a husband is entitled to have sex with his wife regardless of her consent, and prevents women from leaving the house without permission from their husbands. The law would automatically grant custody over any child age two or older to the father in divorce cases, lower the marriage age to nine for girls and fifteen for boys, and even allow girls younger than nine to be married with a parent’s approval.
In short it treats women and girls like inferiors and slaves with no rights.
The draft law violates the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which Iraq ratified in 1986, by giving fewer rights to women and girls on the basis of their gender. It also violates the Convention on Rights of the Child, which Iraq ratified in 1994, by legalizing child marriage, putting girls at risk of forced and early marriage and susceptible to sexual abuse, and not requiring decisions about children in divorce cases to be made in the best interests of the child.
The draft law ignores article 2 of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women by legalizing marital rape, Human Rights Watch said. The CEDAW committee, the body of international experts who review state compliance with the convention, in its February 28, 2014 review of Iraq’s reports, urged the government to “immediately withdraw the draft Jaafari personal status law.” The law also appears to violate the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by granting fewer rights to certain individuals on the basis of their religion.
Well at least Iraq ratified CEDAW. You know who has 626 million thumbs and didn’t ratify CEDAW? The US, that’s who. We’re one of only seven countries that haven’t. My god that makes me swell with pride. The others? Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Palau, and Tonga. Great, isn’t it? On the other hand we do not have a Jaafari Personal Status Law on the books, so that’s an improvement on Iraq.