A court battle over the divorce of a divorced woman over the marriage of her 12-year-old daughter has caused a stir in Iraq, with a judge adjourning the case for another week on Sunday, while feminist activists protested.
A personal court in Kadima, a suburb of Baghdad, has ruled that the husband should be allowed to request official approval of his marriage to the child Isra.
But the Israeli mother, who declined to be named, confirmed that she did not know her daughter’s address and that her ex-husband had “kidnapped” her and “raped” her.
On her behalf, lawyer Marwan al-Obedi, who is handling the case as the mother’s agent, confirmed to AFP that “marriage registration is not allowed because the girl cannot get married because she is too young.”
In the case of the girl Isra, a statement issued by the Home Ministry’s “Community Police” said that a team of activists had met the girl, her father, her husband and brother.
The young woman confirmed that the marriage took place with her consent, without forcing anyone to do so, and that the team was informed of the legal agreement under which the minor girl was married, according to the statement.
On Sunday, feminist activists, including Yanar Muhammad, head of the “Women’s Freedom in Iraq” group, gathered in Kadhimiyah’s personal status court to refuse to accept Isra’s marriage.
“What does it mean to certify marriage with a girl other than child rape?” The head of the organization told AFP.
“Rape is a crime and we are here to protect the girl child,” he added.
Early marriages for girls are still common in Iraq, especially in rural areas. Legally, 18 is the official age for marriage, but there are exceptions that allow marriage at the age of 15, if the girl’s parents agree.
According to Save the Children, religious marriages are legalized by some, but remain unofficial until approved by the judiciary.