Iraqi Women Protest Horrifying Legislation

There is a new law proposed in Iraq, and approved by the cabinet, that would set the cause of womens’ rights in Iraq back many decades and constitute a serious regression even from the days of Saddam Hussein, who was, despite many other flaws, relatively progressive in that regard. A group of women protested that law last week.

About two dozen Iraqi women demonstrated on Saturday in Baghdad against a draft law approved by the Iraqi cabinet that would permit the marriage of nine-year-old girls and automatically give child custody to fathers.

The group’s protest was on International Women’s Day and a week after the cabinet voted for the legislation, based on Shi’ite Islamic jurisprudence, allowing clergy to preside over marriages, divorces and inheritances. The draft now goes to parliament…

“We believe that this is a crime against humanity,” said Hanaa Eduar, a prominent Iraqi human rights activist. “It would deprive a girl of her right to live a normal childhood.”

The UN’s representative to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, also condemned the legislation. Mladenov wrote on Twitter the bill “risks constitutionally protected rights for women and international commitment”.

The legislation goes to the heart of the divisions in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, as Shi’ite Islamists have come to lead the government and look to impose their religious values on society at large.

It describes girls as reaching puberty at nine, making them fit for marriage, makes the father sole guardian of his children at two and condones a husband’s right to insist on sexual intercourse with his wife whenever he wishes.

It would be a terrible shame if our invasion of Iraq and deposing of Saddam Hussein, who was a terrible dictator in many ways, results in a big setback for women of that country. It points out the dangers of making law on the basis of repressive religious beliefs.

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  • alanb

    This story makes no sense. I mean it was called Operation Iraqi Freedom, right? And the mission was accomplishe, right? That means everyone in Iraq should now be free.

  • D. C. Sessions

    We did tell the world that we were there to establish democratic self-government, yes?

  • mkoormtbaalt

    Wouldn’t the Christian right consider this a victory?

  • busterggi

    mkoormtbaalt – you got it.

  • howardhershey

    The Christian right certainly should regard this as a victory for traditional values. But they probably don’t because it was passed by Muslims rather than true Christians. Their objection isn’t to the content of Sharia Law; it is the name that offends them.

  • Nemo

    I don’t understand how these are “values”. I don’t understand what problem is solved by allowing nine-year-olds to marry. I don’t understand how one single person, male or female, would want any of these measures passed. I don’t understand why people seem to want to actively make the world worse.

  • zero6ix



  • d.c.wilson

    Nemo @6:

    That’s because you’re a decent human being who sees women has autonomous individuals who have the right to make their own decisions in life. The law actually makes perfect sense if you view women as property and that your personal honor is directly related to how well you can control your property. In the whacky minds of religious fanatics, a nonvirgin bride is damaged goods. You wouldn’t pay full price for a used car, amirite? So, how can you be sure that the bride you’ve just purchased paid a dowry for isn’t “used”? Well, the best way is to marry them as young as possible.

    See? Perfectly logical in it’s own sick and twisted way.

  • timpayne

    Over 7 million people in Baghdad, and two dozen show up to protest the demolition of women’s rights? Pam Geller’s take on Islam is just about right.

  • Chiroptera

    timpayne, #9:

    Was Pam Geller’s take on Christianity similar when Uganda passed that barbaric anti-gay law?

  • had3

    And poof, there’s obviously no more moral discomfort with Mohamed’s relationship to his 9 year old bride.

  • leni

    All I could think when I read this is how GirlWritesWhat would use these laws as examples of female privilege. And then I felt like whatever the word is for barfing and laughing at the same time.


    I don’t understand what problem is solved by allowing nine-year-olds to marry.

    Well, aren’t you just the pessimist! There are many problems to be solved, not just the one!

    For example:

    * More bodies in the mosque, and no one is going to miss those nine year old girls when they die during pregnancy or childbirth.

    * Educated people who question your decrees too much are annoying. Just nip that shit in the bud.

    * Unmarried, bored 9 year olds! Huge problem. They linger like ghosts in the windows of their homes and make everyone uncomfortable with their lack of slave wage jobs and barren wombs. Their unoccupied minds think about unholy things like reading and writing or having better lives. It’s better to just marry them off before they get any big ideas.

    * Last on this list, though surely not the last worth mentioning, it also solves the problem of where to find children to rape. I have a very persistent suspicion that the people who draft and pass this kind of law have specific reasons for doing so and that piety is the least among them.

    I really see this as an explicit, orchestrated creation of a second tier slave class. It’s a twofer for the wealthy! You get free slaves for your slaves. And a threefer if you like fucking children.

    I don’t understand why people seem to want to actively make the world worse.

    Worse for who? The people making the rules aren’t the ones getting hurt. They’re getting legally and religiously sanctioned domestic slaves for themselves and for their cheap labor, all while ensuring that people trapped in poverty stay in poverty.

    Doesn’t sound to me like the world is getting any worse for those assholes.

  • Dunc

    Over 7 million people in Baghdad, and two dozen show up to protest the demolition of women’s rights?

    Well, given that the country’s still rife with (largely US-trained) fanatical Islamist death squads, I’m not entirely surprised at the low turnout. This is a country where crossing the wrong people gets you abducted, tortured to death with power tools, and your mutilated body dumped in public as a warning to others. Just like in the darkest days of the CIA’s involvement in South and Central America…

  • congenital cynic

    Wow. What kind of freaks are these men making these laws? It’s legalized child abuse. Oh, right, they are religious freaks. Religion really does poison everything. So much for the coalition of the willing invasion fixing up Iraq. Humans are too stupid to deserve this planet.