HRW – “Don’t Legalize Marriage for 9-Year-Olds”

“Iraq is in conflict and undergoing a breakdown of the rule of law,” Basma al-Khateeb, a women’s rights activist, told Human Rights Watch. “The passage of the Jaafari law sets the ground for legalized inequality.”

In its review, the CEDAW committee had also recommended that Iraq repeal discriminatory legal exceptions to the minimum age of marriage for girls in the existing Personal Status Law. It said that legal exceptions to the minimum age of marriage should be granted only in exceptional cases and authorized by a competent court for both girls and boys, and only in cases in which they are at least 16 years old and give their express consent. It recommended that Iraq take the necessary legislative measures to prohibit polygamy, which is permitted in the current law under certain circumstances.

More generally, the committee expressed concern over the generally poor status of women’s rights in the country, which it attributed in part to the government’s “strengthening the role of the security sector” at the expense of the enforcement of the rule of law, since its initiatives “have not given due consideration to the establishment of accountability mechanisms and … have resulted in rampant impunity.” The committee said it “is particularly concerned that this situation, along with pervasive corruption, has contributed to an increase of violence against women by State and non-State actors, as well as to the reinforcement of traditional and patriarchal attitudes which limit women’s and girls’ enjoyment of their rights.”

“This draft personal status law flies in the faces of the Iraqi government’s legal commitments to protect women’s and girls’ rights,” Stork said. “Passage of this law by parliament may lead to further discriminatory laws. It is all well and good to have a good constitution on paper, but lawmakers need to respect its principles.”

(Source: Human Rights Watch)

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