Parliament committee to rethink bill allowing 9-year-old girls to marry

A displaced Iraqi child from the Yazidi community hold a juice after crossing the Syrian-Iraqi border at the Fishkhabur crossing, in northern Iraq. Archival photo.

Baghdad ( An Iraqi parliament committee halted a vote on a bill allowing girls as young as nine years to marry, instead revising the law after a women rights groups’ outcry.

SNG website quoted Lama al-Halfi, chairman of the Iraqi parliament’s women affairs committee, saying in a press statement on Wednesday that the “personal status” law had been withdrawn from voting and returned to the committee for further deliberation with the endowments committee.

“This (draft) law permits girls between eight and nine to get married, while the Iraqi law 199/1959 sets a girl’s maturity age between 15 and 16,” Halfi said, asking to adopt that age range in the new amendments.

The Iraqi parliament had given an initial approval early this month of the draft amendments to the marriage age.

Women rights groups had reportedly staged demonstrations against the law earlier this week, deeming it a setback on the women rights’ level.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq had also asked for wider consultations over the bill.

Women and girls in Iraq have suffered violations of their basic human rights and violence in armed conflict, in particular under the terrorist group Daesh. They aspire that the realization of their rights should be prioritized with a view to achieving equality with men,” the mission said.

The legal marriage age in Iraq is 18, but existent personal status law gives judges the power to sanction marriage for  girls as young as 15 in “urgent” cases.

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