How women matter (or not) in the Iraqi constitution

Check out this Salon article, “Why Women Matter,” where the author examines Iraq’s draft constitution and explains why women’s equal rights are essential for the success of a stable democracy.
The author points out that many basic fundamental rights are given to women in the draft, such as the right to vote, to run as political candidates, the right to pass citizenship on to their kids, and 25 percent of parliamentary seats have been set aside for women. Yet there are other parts of the draft where murky language leaves opportunities for oppression:
“For instance, freedom of expression, freedom of the media and freedom of association and peaceful protest are only guaranteed by the state if they do not ‘violate public order and morality.’ A parliament dominated by religious extremists could use this loophole to restrict actions, particularly those of women they deem immoral.
Another provision allows Iraqis to choose whether they will follow secular law or sharia law in family matters, such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. What is not clear, however, is whether men will have the right to make that decision even if their wives and daughters disagree. The power of clerics on the courts is also unclear, especially with regard to their ability to push the adoption of Islamic law and negate the constitution’s protections of religious freedom and the rights of women.”

We’ve posted in the past on Iraqi women’s fear of ambiguous language and implementation of Shariah law into the draft, which could leave women’s rights in jeopardy. Looks like this new draft isn’t too far off.

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