Target: Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki
Goal: The withdrawal of legislation that will legalize child marriage
While other parts of the world are making great strides towards equality for women, Iraq’s newest legislation draft could put countless Iraqi women at risk of exploitation and damning inequality. The pending legislation is said to restrict a woman’s right of inheritance, parental rights and other rights in the event of divorce and, most importantly, would allow girls to be married as young as nine years old.
Based on fundamental theories of the Jaafari school of Shia, a religious jurisprudence, the law makes many revisions for men that would allow multiple wives and the unions of Muslims with non-Muslims. It also legalizes marital rape expressing that a woman’s consent is meaningless and that a husband is entitled to sex with his wife. Further, the drafted legislation prevents women from leaving their homes without permission, lowers the marriage age to nine, and, worse yet, allows girls younger than nine to be married, so long as their parent’s agree to it.
The legislation is in violation of a bevy of Human Rights acts including the Convention on Rights of the Child and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. If passed as law, the gender discrimination and religious division in Iraq would only deepen, making the fight for women’s rights seem utterly futile.
According to Human Rights Watch’s Joe Stork, deputy of Middle Eastern and North African affairs, the law’s passing “…would be a disastrous and discriminatory step backward for Iraq’s women and girls. This personal status law would only entrench Iraq’s divisions while the government claims to support equal rights for all.”
By signing this petition you’ll urge Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to put an end to the discriminatory practices of the government against women and girls and encourage them to stay true to the promise of equal rights.
Dear Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki,
It has come to my attention that a pending legislation could end all efforts that Iraqi activists and advocates for women’s rights have made thus far. As a supporter of women’s rights and equality for all I find that this decision is not only archaic but a senseless perpetuation of patriarchy.
To deny a woman the right to leave her home, lose her children and inheritance after divorce and to be legally married at the tender age of nine not only baffles, but disheartens me. This pending legislation is one of the most demoralizing and insulting laws I’ve come across and it simply is not fair for a country to be apathetic to the human rights laws in place. They are there for a reason and its principles deserve to be respected.
Legalized inequality is basically what the Iraqi government is supporting, and there is no way for you or the rest of the council to justify robbing a young girl of her youth by forcing her into matrimony or the rape of a woman by her husband by stating that he is ‘entitled.’
Women are not property. They are not props for religious propaganda, nor are they to be locked up and denied freedoms simply based on their gender. I encourage you to understand these disparities as nothing more than a huge step back. Release these women and girls from their imprisonment and allow them to lead the lives they dream for themselves.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: FunkMonk via wikimedia