Vastavam web: A proposal in Iraq’s parliament to scrap the minimum age for Muslim girls to marry has stirred outrage among critics who view it as a licence “to rape children”.Conservative Shiite deputies on October 31 proposed an amendment to a 1959 law that set the minimum age for marriage at 18.But now the new bill looks to go back on that — and would authorise the marriage of any girl if it had the consent of the religious leaders from the Shiite or Sunni Muslim community to which her parents belong.
In effect, it makes “the opinion of the Shiite and Sunni ulema (scholars) obligatory for judges”, said a liberal independent MP, Faiq al-Sheikh, a member of Iraq’s legal commission.”It’s a law worthy of the Islamic State (jihadist group) that provides legal cover to the rape of children,” Hadi Abbas, an army retiree in the southern city of Kut, told AFP.
Ali Lefta, a 40-year-old teacher in the port city of Basra, said it amounted to “the murder of the innocence of children” and that the bill was “the latest in a string of stupid laws based on tribal and confessional modes of thinking”.In defence of the bill sponsored by his party, Ammar Toama, who heads the Shiite parliamentary group Fadila, said it “makes no mention of age and stipulates only that she (bride) must be pubescent, capable of deciding, and have the accord of her tutor and a judge”.But foreign missions in Baghdad and the United Nations have been up in arms, warning against institutionalised discrimination against women and girls.
Many Iraqis like Safia Mohssen, a mother of three girls, also remain opposed and have taken to mocking the priorities of parliamentarians.”We have war, crises, unemployment, and yet our parliament is busy with laws that violate children’s rights!” she fumed. “The Islamists want to take us back to the Middle Ages.” But whether it passes or not, women like Umm Mohammed in the conservative rural province of Zi Qar, who wed at the age of 14, said marriage was a family affair.