Religious marriage of 12-year-old girl causes outrage in Iraq


Child rights activists protested outside a Baghdad court on Sunday with banners saying “the marriage of minors is a crime against childhood”, while a judge hears the case of a religious marriage of a man to a 12 year old girl.

The girl’s mother, who refuses to be identified and opposes the union said her daughter Israa had been “raped” and that the girl’s father kidnapped her to force her into marriage.

The legal age for marriage in Iraq is 18 but can be lowered to 15 in cases of parental or judicial consent, according to charity Save the Children.

“Religious marriages are not permitted outside civil or religious courts but these types of marriages still happen regularly and can be formalised on the payment of a small fine,” it said in a recent report.

The Department of the Interior Ministry dealing with violence against women said in a statement that it had met with Israa, her father and husband, seen the religious contract, and said she had assured them she had not been coerced.

Child marriage is not uncommon in conservative and rural areas of Iraq, as well as in other Arab countries.

The judge hearing the case have postponed the hearing until 28 November, the lawyer of the mother, Marwan Obeidi said. (Source: The Straits Times)