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No to sectarian draft laws that shatter the unity of the social fabric and women’s dignity and rights[i]

No to sectarian draft laws that shatter the unity of the social fabric and women’s dignity and rights[i]

Our country faces serious challenges represented by desperate attempts to stoke sectarianism, conflict and division among our people, along with the continued paralysis in the political process, the deterioration of the security situation accompanying the increase in terrorist attacks in most provinces, that target cafes, restaurants, markets, neighborhoods, schools and State institutions, and commit heinous crimes in attacking the safe houses and killing their residents, including children, women and elders, assassinations, and beheadings of victims and throwing their bodies in the garbage. Many families were threatened in various provinces, and they were forced to flee from their places of residence to other areas, and militia regained its activity in daylight and in full view by the security services, these militia exercise kidnapping and threat to blackmail and intimidate citizens.

According to this gloomy situation that looks like a renewal of the nightmare of sectarian strife in 2006, the Minister of Justice announced on 23/10/2013 that he accomplished the two draft laws of “Jaafari personal status” and “Jaafari judiciary” that strengthen sectarian divisions within the society and in the formations of the judicial power, contradict with the provisions of the constitution, and target shredding the unity of national legislation that was strengthened over the decades by the Personal Status Law No. 188 of 1959, which had a positive impact on the consolidation of civic peace and strengthen the unity of the social fabric through intermarriage among sects, and even among different religions and various ethnicities, in addition to protect the rights of women in marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance, based on the principles of Islamic law that is most favorable to the spirit of the current time, and most of its provisions are derived from the Jaafari jurisprudence that Minister of Justice is claiming to defend it.

It is strange that the Minister of Justice relied on Article 41 of the Constitution to present these two draft laws, although he knows, by virtue of his membership in the previous Council of Representatives, that this Article is under a constitutional amendment which has not been resolved yet up to date. At the same time, he did not hide his wish to “apply” Islamic law in all criminal and regulatory issues in the country, ignoring the constitutional and ministerial oath and his responsibility to preserve the democratic federal system, public and private freedoms, and the independence of the judiciary and the application of legislations faithfully and impartially.

The women’s organizations and CSOs concerned with women’s rights played a remarkable role after the change in 2003 to cancel the decision of the Governing Council No 137 of 2003, as well as to put pressure on decision-makers in 2006 to include Article 41 of the Constitution within the controversial articles that need to be modified, to ensure equality of citizens before the law without discrimination due to sex, race, national origin, color , religion, sect, belief or opinion, or economic or social status, to enhance the provisions of the Constitution in the areas of ​​human rights, public freedoms and respect for national, religious and political pluralism, and ensure the unity of the national legislations, State institutions State and their  impartiality, the separation of powers, and prevent any other authority to interfere in the judiciary or in the affairs of justice.

Today, once again, CSOs confirm its position of rejecting the two draft laws for the supreme national interest to preserve the unity of the social fabric of our people and build a democratic civil State, defend the principle of equal rights for women and men, eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women, in particular to prevent marriage of young girls, temporary marriages and restrict polygamy and arbitrary divorce, impose registration of marriages and divorces in the courts, as the personal status represents the cornerstone in building the human, evolution of social relations and the establishment of a democratic system, by measuring the extent of respect for the dignity of women and their right to choose their life partner without coercion, and building family life based on affection, understanding and partnership.

The attitudes that reject the two draft laws expressed by many legal specialists, political forces, members of the Council of Representatives, clerics, social and cultural figures, has prompted the government to take a positive step to postpone discussing them only after the next election.

The CSOs will continue demanding the abolition of the said draft laws, through advocacy, pressure campaigns, and awareness on the bad impacts of these two draft laws on the stability of family relationships and society, the negative repercussions on the status of women and children, and their violation of the provisions of international conventions ratified by Iraq which deemed by virtue as national laws, in particular the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW ), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights .

Iraqi Women Network

Baghdad, 05/12/2013

[i] It was issued during the NGOs workshop on the draft of CEDAW shadow report, 5th December 2013 attended by 51 representatives of 28 NGOs. 

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