Abuse of women rights in Iraq

The Iraqi Constitution of 1970, article 11 stipulates that (a- Citizens are equal before the law, without discrimination because of sex, race, language, social origin or religion. b- Equal opportunities for all citizens are guaranteed within the limits of the law). The relevant provisions of the Iraqi Constitution are remaining dead letter and have been seriously violated, from the legislative and factual aspects, where no gender equality has been achieved in society and the policy of violence and persecution against Iraqi women has continued on a regular basis. This calls for the intervention of the international organizations to stop these violations, which in some extreme respects have exceeded the afghan Taliban Government’s rudimentary policy of abolishing women’s rights.

Iraqi civil law is the first Arab civil law in which Islamic jurisprudence converges with Western laws, it came into force in 1953 but it is not free of loopholes, it included – with regard to women’s rights – many texts that have not been made equal to those of men and which must be amended:

-Preventing women from traveling (constitutional and legal) without the consent of the guardian if the women under 40 years. Preventing women from traveling outside Iraq even if they hold the highest academic certificate except with a guardian person, a decision that considered women incompetent while the system allowed the adult male the right to travel outside Iraq alone even if without educational certificate and we do not know the wisdom that led to pass such legislation contrary to human rights.

-Limiting divorce to the husband as well as the provisions relating to the disobedience of woman. Marriage is based on consent in living and human understanding, not coercion, as well as the provisions of the so-called house of obedience and the legitimate house of women who refuse to continue marriage.

-Adultery, honors killing crimes which deny the equal legal status of women and men. It is well known that the Penal Code has made there a disparity in legal protection between men and women in this crime and has sided with men. The Penal Code has imposed very severe penalties on women, which amount to the loss of the life without punishment for the killer, under the pretext of washing the shame, or to a light punishment that is not commensurate with the crime committed.

– Disciplining the wife:  is a legally prescribed right of the husband only, but not of the wife, and that he may beat and abandon her as part of the discipline, which is contrary to human rights, and human values.

-Women barred from certain categories of jobs:  Preventing women from taking up positions in the judiciary and police domain.

Instead of amending all the provisions related to the abovementioned abuses of women rights, the Iraqi Parliament’s vote recently on the amendment in Article 10 which allows the marriage of 9-year-olds, allows the husband to polygamy without the wife’s permission, allows him as well to take the two-year-old baby from his mother (custody) and forces the wife to live with her husband’s family. These amendments are a setback to the earnings of Iraqi women that they received half a century ago, as per the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights.

By amendment of this provision the Iraqi law would legalizes the rape of minors and throw society into problems as a result of the proposed amendments.

Many Iraqi activists and international organizations expressed indignation at the Iraqi Parliament’s vote on amendments to the personal status law, which they considered to rob women of their rights.

International Organizations and human rights bodies are called to assist Iraqi women in protecting their rights. There is a dire need for a review of the provisions in the constitution, penal code and legislations containing any abuse and violation of women rights.

It is time to develop and build a civil society that is governed by the law only by raising the status of women, eliminating all forms of gender discrimination and opening the doors wide for women in community-building and family-building. It is urgent to carry out a major educational campaign in the field of the dissemination of a culture of human rights in society, the promotion of respect for women as a fundamental principle, the criminalization of sexual harassment, whether on the job or on the street, and the adoption of the principle of gender equality in hobbies such as cycling, driving, swimming, and all the fundamental rights, …etc.

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