Al Jazeera America recently reported that there is a new Iraqi law that would legalize marital rape and child marriage for the country's Shia population, and we are absolutely disgusted.
The new legislation, which was introduced in February by Iraqi Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimari, sets rules for divorce of girls as young as 9 years old, the logic being that girls reach puberty at age nine.
Just you wait. It gets worse.
The law also makes marital rape legal and allows men who divorce their wives to automatically gain custody to the couple's children who are above the age of 2. Why? Because it makes it easier for men to have multiple wives.
We just threw up a little.
This is another huge setback for the women's rights movement in Iraq. It is no wonder that this horrifying legislation has sparked outrage among not just Iraqi Shia women but women's rights activists around the world. In protest, Iraqi women took to the capital's Tahrir Square last month to raise their voices against the bill.
"Some of the women were worried this would allow their husbands to get rid of their daughters by marrying them off so they don't have the responsibility of caring for a girl anymore,” said Ahlam al-Ubeidi, a radio anchor of a Baghdad radio station. The fearful inquiries al-Ubeidi received on air included, "How do I protect my little girl from being married off?"
The law is a blatant violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which includes Iraq in its signatories. As such, it has received push back from some Shia religious leaders. "It is not compatible with the Shia school of Islam. It's been very hastily prepared," said Sheik Jawad al-Khalisi, a moderate Shia cleric.
However, despite the backlash, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has remained silent on the legislation. Word on the street is that he is waiting to see which stance he should take on the matter in order to gain a majority in parliament.
We certainly hope that Prime Minister al-Maliki will overturn this mortifying law as soon as possible for the sake of the country's Shia women, especially young girls in danger of being married off to much older men.