On international Women’s Day, a handful of women in Iraq’s war torn capital city of Baghdad dared to venture out and rallied against a draft law approved by the country’s cabinet that would allow the marriage of nine-year-old girls and automatically grant child custody to fathers.
The draft is now scheduled to go to parliament.
“On this day of women, women of Iraq are in mourning,” the protesters shouted.
In Iraq, there have been attempts to pass a version of the law since Late President Saddam Hussain was overthrown.
They have managed to take a step that direction yet again despite severe resistance from angering secular and moderate Iraqis.
It’s really quite surprising as Iraq is generally seen as one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East, especially when it comes to women’s rights. The country’s law upholds women's rights regarding marriage, inheritance, and child custody.
Many cultures around the world allow child marriages. According to a study, 64 million girls around the world are forced into marriage before the age of 18.
One in three girls in the developing world is married before 18, whereas one in nine girls are married before the age of 15.
According to the organization Girls Not Brides, the following are the top 20 countries where the practice of underage marriages is a norm:
Unfortunately, early marriage does not only mean loss of childhood and innocence; it also involves serious physical and psychological challenges. However, most of the practices take place under the blanket of culture and religion and people usually do not question them.
Here are just some of the downsides of this practice:
If the practice continues, there is every chance that 142 million girls will become child brides in the next decade.
It is a tragic practice indeed, no matter how far it is rooted in any culture.