Less than a month before the eleventh anniversary of the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq, the near destruction of much of the country, heritage, culture, secularism, education, health services and all State institutions, the country is poised to revert "two thousand years" say campaigners.
On 25th February Iraq’s Cabinet approved a draft law lowering the age of legal marriage for females to nine years old.
Iraq was, prior to the invasion, a fiercely secular country, with a broadly equal male, female workforce and with women benefiting from a National Personal Status Law, introduced in 1959, which remained "one of the most liberal in the Arab world, with respect to women’s rights."
The legal age for marriage was set at eighteen, forced marriages were banned and polygamy restricted. Cohesion between communities was enhanced and fostered by: "eliminating the differential treatment of Sunnis and Shiites under the law (and erasing differentiation) between the various religious communities …" Women’s rights in divorce, child custody and inheritance were an integral part of the Law, with Article 14 stating that all Iraqis are equal under the law.(1)