Iraqi Marriage Law Concerns Rights Activists

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News,World,Iraq,Gender Issues,Family Issues

Iraqi officials are considering a draft law that could allow girls as young as nine to get married, causing outrage among human rights activists and many Iraqis. (March 14)

SHOTLIST:

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Baghdad - March 13, 2014

1. Wide holy shrine of the Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq

2. Mid golden domes of shrine

3. Mid human rights activist, Hana Adwar, walking across room

4. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Hana Adwar, human rights activist (Transcript Below)

5. Various of families and people in street

6. Mid two men walking in street

7. Wide street with domes of shrine in background

8. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Tariq Harib, legal expert (Transcript Below)

9. Wide Justice Minister Hassan al-Shammari seated

10. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Hassan al-Shammari, Iraqi Justice Minister (Transcript Below)

11. Mid Um Hassan chopping tomatoes in kitchen

12. Tight Hassan chopping tomatoes in kitchen

13. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Um Hassan, Baghdad resident and mother (Transcript Below)

14. Wide traffic

15. Tight billboard near offices of the Shiite Fadila party reading (Arabic): "we strongly support the Jaafari Personal Status Law"

VOICE-OVER SCRIPT:

A CONTENTIOUS DRAFT LAW BEING CONSIDERED IN IRAQ COULD ALLOW GIRLS AS YOUNG AS NINE TO GET MARRIED.

HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS AND MANY IRAQIS ARE OUTRAGED AND SEE IT AS A STEP BACKWARD FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Hana Adwar, human rights activists:

"We can say that the draft law represents a crime against humanity. It is a crime as it contains texts and rules that fully contradict the spirit of age. I could also say that it is a crime against childhood."

CURRENT IRAQI LAW SETS THE LEGAL AGE FOR MARRIAGE AT 18 WITHOUT PARENTAL APPROVAL, AND 15 WITH A GUARDIAN'S APPROVAL.

THE PROPOSED LAW, AIMED AT CREATING DIFFERENT LAWS FOR IRAQ'S MAJORITY SHIITE POPULATION, DOES NOT SET A MINIMUM AGE OF MARRIAGE.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Tariq Harib, legal expert:

"It's an incomplete law. The views of experts were not taken into consideration, the views of religious reference bodies were not sought, and it does not rectify the mistakes and the pitfalls of the current law."

BUT IRAQI OFFICIALS ARE BRUSHING OFF THE CRITICISM.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Hassan al-Shammari, Iraqi Justice Minister:

"We are not responsible for marriages of children which take place outside the official frameworks. By introducing this draft law, we want to limit or prevent such practices."

IT IS UNCLEAR HOW MUCH SUPPORT THE BILL ENJOYS AMONG IRAQI SHIITES, ESPECIALLY FROM SECULAR MEMBERS OF THE SECT.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Um Hassan, Baghdad resident and mother:

"How could I let her get married at that age? She would not be able to comprehend or undertake the marriage affairs physically or mentally. She would not be able to endure married life at such age. To ask her to endure that would be to ask her to commit suicide."

PARLIAMENT MUST STILL RATIFY THE BILL BEFORE IT BECOMES LAW.

MATTHEW BURGOYNE, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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