Kurdish activists in Sulaimani slammed on Sunday bid from the Iraqi parliament to amend Iraq's Personal Statues Law which would allow girls as young as nine years to get married. Photo: Facebook/Raman Gareb
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - A group of activists from civil society organizations gathered in Sulaimani on Sunday and strongly criticized attempts to change Iraq’s Personal Statues Law that would allow marriage of girls as young as nine years.
"Raising this petition comes when some blocs inside the Iraqi parliament are trying to pass sectarian laws which violate human rights and children’s rights," read a petition from the activists.
The petition also read: "This new bill to amend the Personal Statues Law will authorize religious men to enforce illegal marriages and force girls under 18 to live with their in-laws. This is a setback to the achievements Iraqi women made and struggled for half a century ago."
The House of Representatives voted "in principle" on Nov. 1 to approve amendments which could allow 9 year old girls to marry. The draft is based on the Jaafari school of Shiite religious jurisprudence.
If passed, the law would only apply to the country's Shiite citizens and residents.
"The participants of the gathering throw their full support behind girls and women, the civic and democratic parties and those who demand equality, justice and freedoms against such laws which place Iraq in terms of lawmaking alongside the backward countries," the petition read.
The law will do the future generations a great harm, the activists warned.
"Parliament members will come under a historical and moral responsibility if they turn this bill into a law," they said.
The United Nations in Iraq, UNAMI, women's rights campaigners and some other rights organizations slammed the bid wanting women's rights fully respected and protected
"I call upon the Council of Representatives to seize this opportunity of the process to amend the Personal Status Law," said Jan Kubis, the special representative to Iraq of the UN Secretary-General through a statement on Thursday.
Versions of the bill, also proposed in 2014, have included provisions that prohibit Muslim men from marrying non-Muslims, legalize marital rape by stating that a husband is entitled to have sex regardless of his wife's consent, and prevent women from leaving the house without permission from their husbands, according to Human Rights Watch.
The suggested changes could violate child protections enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The 1994 treaty defines a child as any human being under the age of 18 unless the age of majority is decided through national legislation. Iraq is a signatory of the Convention.