The marriage of a 12-year-old girl causes a stir in Iraq

A judicial confrontation waged by an Iraqi mother against her ex-husband to annul the marriage of their 12-year-old daughter, accusing him of facilitating the marriage, sparked an uproar in Iraq.

The hearing before the Personal Status Court in the Kadhimiya neighborhood in Baghdad was intended to allow the husband to request official approval of his marriage to the girl Isra, but her mother refused to marry, and said that she did not know her daughter’s whereabouts, and that her ex-husband had “kidnapped her daughter” and “was raped.”

For his part, lawyer Marwan Al-Obaidi, who is handling the case as the mother’s representative, affirmed, “It is not permissible to register the marriage because the girl cannot marry because she is young.”

Yanar Muhammad considered that ratifying the marriage of a child is a rape of childhood (Al-Jazeera)

Feminist protests

Feminist activists gathered at the Personal Status Court in Kadhimiya to refuse to ratify Isra’s marriage. The activists chanted, “No, no to marrying off the rapist to the victim” and “Void, void.”

The head of the “Women’s Freedom in Iraq” organization, Yanar Muhammad, asked, “What does it mean to certify marriage to a girl other than childhood rape? .. Rape is a crime and we are here to defend the girl.”

And she called for the abolition of Article 398 of the Iraqi Penal Code, which “exempts the rapist from legal punishment if he marries the victim.”

In turn, a member of the Women’s Freedom Organization, Jannat Al-Ghazi, said, “We stood today to express our rejection of the rape of childhood in the name of religion and marriage. Do not kill childhood.”

On the other hand, the Community Police of the Iraqi Ministry of Interior stated in a statement that a team of its members met the girl, her father, her husband and her brother.

The girl confirmed that “the marriage took place with her consent without anyone forcing her to do so, and that the team reviewed the legal contract under which the underage girl was married,” according to the statement.

Early marriage of girls is still common in Iraq, especially in the countryside. Legally, 18 years is considered the official age for marriage, but there are exceptions that allow marriage at the age of 15, if the court and the girl’s guardian agree.

Marriages held by religious scholars are considered legal by some, but they remain informal until they are approved by the judiciary in return for payment of financial fees, according to a report by the Save the Children organization.

There are no accurate statistics on the number of underage married women in Iraq, because many marriages take place outside the court, according to human rights organizations.

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