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Iraq

Draft law legalizing marriage of 9-year-olds in Iraq draws UN ire

By Rudaw 9/11/2017
A schoolgirl passes a banner promoting the Jaafari Personal Status law in 2014. The banner states that the law
A schoolgirl passes a banner promoting the Jaafari Personal Status law in 2014. The banner states that the law "saves my rights and my dignity." File photo: Karim Kadim/AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The United Nations in Iraq has criticized a draft Iraqi law that would allow girls as young as nine years old to be married and has asked for wider consultations in order to ensure women’s rights are 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.

The draft, based on the Jaafari school of Shiite religious jurisprudence, is again on the table for Iraqi lawmakers. The House of Representatives voted “in principle” on Nov. 1 to approve amendments which could allow girls as young as 9 to marry. 

If passed, the law would only apply to the country's Shiite citizens and residents.

Versions of the bill, which was 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.

Kubis called upon the Council of Representatives to "conduct a wider consultation on the draft amendments in a participatory manner to recommit to and ensure the full respect, protection and fulfillment of women and girls’ rights in Iraq in relation to matrimonial and other matters."


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. 

Women’s rights campaigners have protested the law, including Yezidi victims of ISIS. Others have complained that this is the Iraq the world wants Kurdistan to remain a part of. 

UNAMI said it was the public outcry that spurred its statement. 

The Kurdistan Region’s Women’s Affairs department has worked with the United Nations to combat child marriage


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dreadp | 10/11/2017
Unbelievable. If true, this is disgusting regardless of faith. Is the entire world moving backwards?
guest101 | 10/11/2017
Child marriages are on the rise in the Kurdistan region. Why are you only blaming the Arabs. You believe it will protect your girls. 'Noble Kurds' who circumcise their young girls, force them into marriages and insist they are virgins. Yes you're noble but you're not perfect. You're so happy to criticise other nations but please be realistic about your own faults.
kurt | 10/11/2017
9 years is insane. every child has the right for a sheltered, good, child-friendly life in a nice, friendly child world. to marrie them will steal them their childhood. in my opinion it should be allowed from the age of 16 in middle east and outher areas. for western states, i would prefer the age of 18 to be allowed for marriage.
anon | 10/11/2017
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. They are willing to make a huge deal out of this but not stand by their own charter that calls for self determination. double standards. Also i'm glad iraq is doing this, it only shows the true nature of iraq and the arab mentality.
Old Canuck | 11/11/2017
The government of Iraq is now stooping so low it is going to give pedophiles the legal right to rape little girls! Nine year old girls are CHILDREN! There is no way any normal child would submit to this. If Iraqi little girls go willing into these sexual relationships it is because their families have brainwashed them into it. I see no difference between those parents and ISIS.
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