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Please believe that this is an example of a complete mockery of what law means and what position it holds in a civilized society. It is a habit, being a law student, to cite legal authorities in opining about anything, but well, if you are aware of this whole thing that is going on, I think you’d even agree with what a layman says. What is the purpose of a law? Simply, it is a disciplinarian, its main job being to settle a dispute. But in Iraq, we see a contrasting picture. This is regarding the Jaafari Personal Status Law, which is a pending legislation in Iraq right now and any minute now, the Iraqi Council of Representatives can vote to make this bill enforceable. Astonishingly, this draft actually was submitted to the parliament for vote by Iraq’s Justice Minister, Hassan al-Shimari.

The pending legislation has pulled down the social status of the main law that the original law had enjoyed till date.  The bill has set the minimum age for females for marriage as nine and that of males, fifteen, but provides that the age limit can be lowered with the consent of the guardian, father or grandfather. This bill allows polygamy without any kind of condition and, gives men the ‘right’ to have sex with their wives anytime they want, thus legalizing sexual slavery. The wives would not be able to leave marital home without permission. These provisions, namely Article 16, 104, 101, 126 and 63 go against Iraqi laws and UN conventions, regarding laws on women and children, which Iraq had ratified on human rights.

This law actually legalizes marital rape. It affects constitutionally protected rights of women and children. A part of the Preamble of their Constitution that has been in force since 2005 says –

“We, the people of Iraq, who have just risen from our stumble, and who are looking with confidence to the future through a republican, federal, democratic, pluralistic system, have resolved with the determination of our men, women, elderly, and youth to respect the rule of law, to establish justice and equality, to cast aside the politics of aggression, to pay attention to women and their rights, the elderly and their concerns, and children and their affairs, to spread the culture of diversity, and to defuse terrorism.”

Please have a look at the underlined part. Now correlating it with this contemporary event the competency of the legislature can surely be questioned, that how on earth, a legislature can even take up such a bill into account which is in violation of the basic structure of the law of the land. Article 30(1) of their constitution states –

“The State shall guarantee to the individual and the family - especially children and womensocial and health security, the basic requirements for living a free and decent life, and shall secure for them suitable income and appropriate housing.”

Again, I’d pull the reader’s attention to the highlighted parts. This bill, by allowing marital rape and sexual slavery, totally negates the significance of the above constitutional provision. In no way does it ensure a decent life


Al-Shimmari says, “By introducing this draft law, we want to limit or prevent such practices” which, prima facie, can be understood to be utterly illogical.

Leave all that. Think of the risk the women and children in their society are at. This ruling party (Fadila Party) has become hell bent on passing this law so that it results in increasing their chances in the general elections. But this is most unlikely to happen. The scream to this bill is taking a louder shape in Iraq by and by and also, internationally. But the offensive cannot be avoided, at the same time. Suppose their legislature passes this bill. It can also be well expected that the justice delivery process shall be distorted with the advent of an advanced level of administrative discretion, and political discontentment because this law will lead to the establishments of Shiites courts thus making the other sects form their own courts, which would finally result in a quake in the legal system of the country. And obviously, for their apex court to declare the law ultra-vires, would take some time because in accordance with procedures, even a single case has to, first of all, reach the court. Till then, will the nation have to endure a social emergency? 

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