Jaafari Law in Iraq – A Giant Leap Backwards

If anything can be said for Iraq’s new Jaafari personal status law, it is that the scandalous and shocking new slew of rights which may be afforded to men at the expense of women and girls is drawing international attention to the unilateral usurpation of freedoms and subjugation of females which is still extant and flourishing in the world today.

News outlets in the Middle East and throughout the world are abuzz with abhorrence for the draft law, which not only places no limits on the number of polygamous marriages into which men can enter, but permits them to make wives of girls as young as nine years old.  Once made into a wife, these girls and all other wives must conduct sexual relations with their husbands whenever they are called to do so.

A girl walks with her mother in Baghdad/Getty images

A girl walks with her mother in Baghdad/Getty images

The law would also permit men to marry non-Muslim women – but only temporarily.  Such marriages are typically permitted in order to sanctify a short-lived sexual relationship.

The new Jaafari law is based on traditional Islamic Sharia law, and would also severely limit women’s freedom of movement by prohibiting them from leaving the house without permission of their male guardian, and would automatically grant custody of children to fathers in divorce cases.

According to a UNICEF survey, over 24 percent of women in Iraq are married by the age of 18, with almost 5 percent married by 15.  Child marriages have increased since the ousting of dictator Saddam Hussein led to the overthrow of his secular Ba’ath party and the rise in power of Shia forces.

The law was proposed by Iraq’s justice minister, the head of the Fadila party, which has seven seats in the national parliament and is allied with prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.  Analysts say the law was created in a bid to attract Shia voters and unite them against their Sunni counterparts in order to shift control of the country.

Nouri Al-Maliki

Nouri Al-Maliki

Whatever the reason, if this law is passed, it will be a major blow to women throughout Iraq, and a frightening threat to the lives of millions of girls.

Please share this information and stand with us against the Jaafari personal status law.  Please sign this petition to stop the passage of the law and protect women and girls in Iraq.

Because we can only succeed in achieving rights for women – around the world and right here at home – if we stand up for each other.

Because Culture is No Excuse for Abuse.