Iraq: 12-year-old mother in court to annul her religious marriage

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Iraqi court adjourns hearing to prevent man from formalizing religious his marriage to a 12 year old, a case that has provoked many reactions in the country.

The minor’s mother’s lawyer, Marouane Obeidi, said she asked not to formalize the marriage, “because the 12-year-old cannot get married because of her young age.” The trial was adjourned until November 28.

The legal age for marriage in Iraq is 18. With parental consent or a court order, marriages from the age of 15 are allowed, according to Save the Children.

The religious weddings are not allowed, except in a specific context, but are still performed and formalized simply by paying a fine.

About 10 activists of a women’s organization had gathered outside the court holding placards with slogans such as “No to child marriage” and “Child marriage is a crime against children”.

“A 12-year-old girl does not have the legal age to make decisions that will determine her future,” the Organization for the Liberation of Women in Iraq (OWFI) said, noting that marriages take place even from the age of nine. The organization is calling for the repeal of Article 398 of the Penal Code, which allows the rapist to go unpunished if he marries his victim.

The girl’s mother has no contact with her daughter, Israel and accuses her ex-husband of kidnapping. He assured that the girl was a victim of rape.

The officials of a sub-directorate of the Ministry of Interior, the “social police” that deals with issues from violence against women to blackmail via the internet, met in late October with the 12-year-old, her father and her husband. The girl “assured that the marriage took place with her consent, without anyone forcing her,” the sub-directorate said.

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