Secretary General Boutros BoutrosGhali
Iraq continues to show discrimination against women’s rights and gender bias by creating a bill that would lower the age of marriage for girls from age thirteen to age nine. They have also lowered the age of marriage for boys to fifteen. The new bill is called the Jaafari Personal Status Law. It allows men to easily have multiple wives and thereby further the subjugation of women.
Founded by Imam Jaafar alSadiq, the Jaafari Personal Status Law is based on the
principles of the Jaafari school of the Shia religion. Despite the efforts of activists and protesters, the bill was approved by the Council of Ministers on February 25, 2014. It must now be approved by the parliament to become law: 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 nonMuslims, 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. (Benson)
Iraq’s current personal status law that was established in 1959 is considered to be the most protective of women’s rights out of all the Middle Eastern countries:
It stipulates the following: the legal age of marriage for both men and women is 18; polygamy is prohibited and taking a second wife is extremely restricted; a Muslim male is allowed to marry a nonMuslim female without conditions or restrictions; and a woman can disobey her husband if he behaves tyrannically and harms her by failing to provide adequate housing or care should she fall ill. (Zangana)
This new draft would treat women and girls as inferiors and slaves with no rights. It
also violates several guidelines set by the United Nations that were approved by the Iraqi government. The
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is an international bill of rights for women. It promotes gender equality and puts an end to sexbased discrimination. The Convention on Rights of the
Child (CRC) protects any child under the age of eighteen to have the right to express their opinions and to have their opinions heard. It also states that children should be protected from abuse or
exploitation and to have their
privacy protected. The
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women protects a woman’s right to live free from violence:
Any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women
, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.
This new law would represent crimes against humanity and childhood. It
would also cause detrimental physical and psychological suffering to young girls such as premature ...