The International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (IAML) of which I am proud to be a Fellow has encouraged its members to support an international campaign against the legalisation of child brides in Iraq. Support is urgently required given it could become law very soon and the consequences for the children involved do not bear thinking about.
Executive Director Donna Goddard wrote to members about a petition launched by the international anti-slavery campaigners Walk Free. She said:
“IAML has taken a public position in opposition to the cultural custom of forced marriage.
Our attention has been drawn to the the Walk Free organisation’s petition on Forced Marriage. You may click on the link below to read more and, if you agree, voice your opposition to Iraq’s proposed new law which would permit child and forced marriage.“
The Walk Free petition states:
“Any minute now, the Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise forced child marriage. 1
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:
- There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old;
- A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal; and
- The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.
It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.”
Last year, the IAML confirmed its commitment to opposing forced marriage, stating in a press release:
“The practice of Forced Marriage is global. It is not restricted to any one state, community or religion. It is not a practice restricted to Third-World countries, or to any one area of the world. It is happening in towns and cities in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The practice of forcing a person, particularly a child, into marriage is a fundamental breach of human rights. The plight of young people who are subjected to such an ordeal is of concern to all who practice family law. Concomitant incidences of rape and honor killings are also a common consequence of the practice.”
The Academy is “urging the international legal community provide leadership in addressing the issue of Forced Marriage”.
The IAML is a worldwide association of practising lawyers who are recognised by their peers as the most experienced and skilled family law specialists in their respective countries.
Fellows of the Academy can advise on the different ways of resolving family law disputes including litigation, negotiation, mediation, collaborative law and arbitration. They also deal with issues in relation to children including custody, residence, visitation, contact and moves to another jurisdiction, as well as financial and jurisdictional disputes.
The IAML engages actively with human rights issues.