Combatting the tradition of early child marriage in Kurdistan a challenge


According to Zangana {Pakhshan Zangana, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Minister of Women’s Affairs}, other challenges include religion’s role in traditional marriage despite governmental policies.

“Another challenge is the procedure of marriage,” she said. “We have a law that does not allow marriage under 18, but they marry with the mullah instead.”

When this occurs there is meant to be a government issued punishment; however too often the punishment is not enforced in an apparent power struggle between the government and religious authorities.

Jaafari law, which the central government in Baghdad wanted to introduce in 2013, encourages child marriage, Zangana noted.

Baghdad’s draft law “stipulates that Iraqi Shiites would refer to Islamic Sharia, and specifically principles of Jaafari jurisprudence, for personal status issues — which include marriage and divorce, as well as issues of inheritance and adoption,” Al-Monitor reported.

According to Zangana, the law would have allowed girls to marry as young as 7. The law did not take hold after facing strong objection from NGO’s and international organizations. Though, at that time, the Iraqi Minister of Justice in Baghdad sided with those who advocated for the law.

Do you think the U.S. has any obligation to pressure the Iraqi government into rejecting such laws like Jaafari law?

We are currently leading a coalition to liberate one of Iraq’s largest cities.


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