Injustice against the women of Iraq

The Iraqi women protesting in Baghdad over the Jaafari personal status draft law, which the cabinet approved, are linked to our situation as individuals in general and women in particular. It is truly an occasion where we must wear black in mourning as there is an inherent injustice we must not overlook.

Personal status laws are the core of the social and legal progress of any society in the world. But when it comes to Arab countries, these laws are backward. Barely any Arab country survived this backwardness even during the post-revolutionary era; there are still relapses such as the Iraqi cabinet’s recent decision.

The suggested Iraqi draft law strips women who belong to the Jaafari Shiite sect of their basic marriage, divorce and inheritance rights and worst of all it legislates the marriage of nine-year-old girls. One cannot but be shocked by the delinquency of those who approved the draft law which has now been referred to parliament for approval.

Backward phenomena

Of course, Iraq is not the only country producing such backward phenomena. The Arab Spring, which is passing through a long autumn, has shown us how we stumbled in our path towards becoming free citizens with equal rights. We of course won’t forget the Muslim Brotherhood’s “efforts” during Mohammad Mursi’s reign to legislate the same thing. We won’t forget how marrying off female children is like plague in Yemen and how this has also become a phenomenon spreading among the Syrian displaced society and extending to Lebanon’s society as well.

Personal status laws are the core of the social and legal progress of any society in the world. The suggested Iraqi draft law strips some women of their rights

Diana Moukalled

A few days ago, Randa Berri, the wife of Lebanon’s parliament speaker, said it’s difficult to criminalize marital rape because no one knows what happens behind closed doors.

Marrying off young girls

Marrying off female youngsters - or let’s be accurate, raping them under a legal cover and violating a woman’s body under the excuse that the assaulter is her husband and all the details categorized as “men’s rights” in addition to all acts linked to domestic violence in all its forms, mostly happen behind closed doors. Most of the times, legislators deal with these issues on the basis that women are “deficient in faith and intelligence.” Women’s property of their minds and bodies are thus confiscated upon that rule.

I woke up yesterday to congratulatory letters for the occasion of International Women’s Day. Google too celebrated the same event and media outlets and social networking websites buzzed with reports and images on the occasion. I am not against reviving the occasion and celebrating it through the media as highlighting the core of the problem is important. However, as we exchange greetings, someone out there is working towards expanding injustice and keeping us in closed rooms.


This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on March 9, 2014.


Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.


Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:41 - GMT 06:41
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