Iraqi Women Alarmed by Reversal of Rights Gains in Draft Constitution, UNIFEM Says

Friday, July 23 2010

July 22, 2005: Iraqi women are alarmed that the National Assembly committee mandated to draft the country's new constitution is curtailing the rights of women granted them in the earlier, interim version and using Islamic Sharia Law as the main source for legislation, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) said today.

Two weeks ago, a draft of the text, released to journalists by a member of a sub-committee of the main constitutional committee, contained a Chapter on Duties and Rights changing the status of Koranic Sharia Law from being an important source of legislation in the interim constitution to being the main source, UNIFEM said.

In the draft, a clause putting 25 per cent of women on all decision-making bodies would only be followed for the next two election phases and could then be removed altogether, it said.

Factors in ensuring women's equality with men and issues addressed by international laws and treaties would all be subordinate to Sharia and the progressive Personal Status Law governing marriage, divorce and inheritance would be replaced by the law as practised according to a family's own religion or sect, UNIFEM said.

The Iraqi women's movement recently prepared a memorandum making such demands as the recognition of women's human rights as mother, worker and citizen, the prevention of all kinds of violence and discrimination against women and the recognition of international conventions and documents that Iraq has signed and ratified as a source for Iraqi legislation and regulation, it said.

Some 200 men and women staged a protest against the draft on Tuesday at Baghdad's Firdaws Square, but the sit-in ended when news came that two Sunni members of the drafting committee had been assassinated, UNIFEM said.

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