It is so appalling to see how a country turns back. In the middle of 1970’s, fathers started to leave out child marriage and Iraq was moving toward modernity, Human rights respect and safety for children.
By 1997, « only » 15 percent of Iraqi women were married as children, according to the Central Organization for Statistics. This figure was the same in 2004. (source: Washington Post)
However the situation has changed a lot considering the war in Iraq from 2003, traditions emerged anew including child marriage. In 2007, 21 percent of young Iraqi women were married as children (source: Population Reference Bureau). Last year, more than 25% of women were married as children, and 5% before their 15th birthday. The figures since the war started in 2003 have raised too much and the worst is ahead: the Iraqi government is planning to legalize child marriage with the Jaafari Personal Status Law, « it would prohibit Muslim men from marrying non-Muslims, prevent women from leaving the house without their husband’s consent, automatically grant custody of children older than two to their father in divorce cases and legalize marital rape. » The law says that it will save « women »s rights and dignitiy » ! How can some people in the name of religion or traditions permit little boys and little girls (as young as nine) to get married ?
« Hanaa Edwar, a well-known activist and head of the charity Al-Amal (« Hope » in Arabic), has campaigned against the law as a setback for women’s rights in a country that has struggled since the 2003 invasion. (source: The Telegraph). She says :
« It turns women into tools for sexual enjoyment. It deletes all their rights.«
« Demonstrators in Baghdad call International Women’s Day a « day of mourning » in protest of Iraq’s new draft Jaafari Personal Status Law, which would restrict women’s rights in matters of inheritance, parental and other rights after divorce, make it easier for men to take multiple wives,and allow girls to be married from age 9. March 8, 2014. » Source: Human Rights Watch – © 2014 Iraqi al-Amal Association
Ending Child Marriage in the Arab region must be a priority and a global commitment. Too many families still think that marrying their girls at young ages (even under 10) is a chance to protect them and give them a future, but these families do not realize how they put their daugthers in danger, exposed to extreme physical and psychological violences.
The highest rates of Child Marriage in the Arab region are in the poorest countries where people have a very low quality of life, almost no access to education and health centers. Saving girls (especially) and boys from early child marriage is part of the Millennium Development Goals: we need within the next decade to involve families in the importance to protect their children from child marriages. Education is they key mean !