Iraq’s parliament voted “in principle” to approve amendments to the Personal Status Law, meaning girls as young a 9-years-old could marry. Albawaba News reports that currently the legal age for marriage is 18-years-old, though a judge can give permission for those as young as 15.
In response to the proposed changes, protesters marched on the capital. One activist, Jabra al-Taee, described the proposed modification as “the assassination of childhood.”
It is “female infanticide,” she added. “She is just 9 years old – which means she hasn’t lived her childhood, and she won’t get a chance to live her youth, because the law will impose upon her a life she knows nothing about.”
Many Iraqis have taken to Twitter to express their opposition to the new law, with some saying “This is an ISIS law which legitimizes child rape.”
Members of parliament are also opposing the new changes. MP Intisar al-Jabouri from the parliamentary committee on women and children said that “This amendment is a setback for the rights of women and works to dismantle the family and to establish sectarianism even within the family.”
Other MPs believe the amendments would only project the beliefs of ISIS onto society. “[This] will consecrate the laws introduced by ISIS, and violate international human rights laws,” added MP Farah al-Sarraj.
The changes are also controversial because they would apply “Shia Jaafari jurisprudence on all Iraqis for personal status issues, which include marriage, divorce, adoption and inheritance.” While 60% of Iraqi’s are Shia, around 40% are Sunni, making the amendments contentious for religious reasons.