An Iraqi woman walks with her fully veiled daughter in Baghdad
Children in Iraq could be legally married before the age of nine under sweeping legislation tabled on Tuesday that introduces new religious restrictions on women’s rights. As almost its last act before elections at the end of the month, the Iraqi parliament looks likely to pass new marital rules for its majority Shia community with a draft law criticised by human rights activists as “legalised inquality” The legislation has been approved by the governing coalition in an effort to attract support from Shia Muslims in the April 30 vote. Current Iraqi law sets the legal age for marriage at 18 without parental approval and states girls as young as 15 can be married only with a guardian’s approval. It does not allow for special provisions according to sect. But the legislation, known as the Jaafari law, introduces rules almost identical to those of neighbouring Iran, a Shia-dominated Islamic theocracy. More