Thursday, July 21, 2005

Democracy should only spread *so far*!

Looks like one group is getting the shaft in the new Iraqi constitution, and it's not a religious minority but the country's women.
One of the critical passages is in Article 14 of the chapter, a sweeping measure that would require court cases dealing with matters like marriage, divorce and inheritance to be judged according to the law practiced by the family's sect or religion.

Under that measure, Shiite women in Iraq, no matter what their age, generally could not marry without their families' permission. Under some interpretations of Shariah, men could attain a divorce simply by stating their intention three times in their wives' presence.

Article 14 would replace a body of Iraqi law that has for decades been considered one of the most progressive in the Middle East in protecting the rights of women, giving them the freedom to choose a husband and requiring divorce cases to be decided by a judge.
(The draft also removed the requirement that some minimum number of women be represented in parliament.) Local groups have protested, but only time will tell whether the three weeks remaining will be long enough, or principled American influence strong enough, to get this revised to a more equitable form. If not, it will be a real blow both to the prospects of Iraqi women and to the illusion that our presence in that country has brought about social or political progress.

(via Alas, a blog)

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