Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) The United Kingdom has urged Iraq to reject a draft law that could allow girls as young as 9 years to get married.
The UK embassy in Iraq called upon the Iraqi parliament on Thursday to reject amendments to the Personal Status law approved in principle by the parliament earlier this month.
“The UK is calling on Iraqi parliamentarians to reject proposed changes to the Personal Status law that would have the effect of reducing the legal marriage age in Iraq to nine years old,” read a statement by the ministry.
“On 14 November a delegation from the British Embassy set out UK concerns at a roundtable discussion on the Personal Status Law hosted by the Iraqi Bar Association. The event was attended by parliamentarians from a cross-section of parties including State of Law, Goran and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, as well as representatives from government, NGOs, media and the international community,” the embassy said.
Under current Iraqi law, the legal age for marriage is eighteen, but can be reduced to fifteen upon the consent of parents or guardians.
The proposed amendments allow religious sects in Iraq to determine their own legal parameters for marriage, divorce, and other family issues, with opponents arguing that such a specification could deepen sectarianism.
“Allowing different groups to legislate according to their own jurisprudence would effectively reduce the marriage age for some girls in Iraq to nine years old,” the embassy said.
“This would be a backward step for the rights of women and girls. It would damage both national prosperity – because women’s social, educational and economic development is a proven factor in driving forward national development – and risk exacerbating sectarian divisions. The UK therefore calls on Parliament to reject these amendments.”
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.