A schoolgirl in Baghdad passes by a Jaafari Personal Status Law banner, which reads: “The Jaafari law preserves my rights and my dignity.”
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A contentious draft law being considered in Iraq could open the door to girls as young as 9 getting married and would require wives to submit to sex on their husband's whim, provoking outrage from rights activists and many Iraqis who see it as a step backward for women's rights.The measure, aimed at creating different laws for Iraq's majority Shiite population, could further fray the country's divisions amid some of the worst bloodshed since the sectarian fighting that nearly ripped the country apart after the U.S.-led invasion. Iraqi law now sets the legal age for marriage at 18 without parental approval.The proposed new measure, known as the Jaafari Personal Status Law, is based on the principles of a Shiite school of religious law founded by Jaafar al-Sadiq, the sixth Shiite imam. Already, government statistics show that nearly 25 percent of marriages in Iraq involved someone under the age of 18 in 2011, up from 21 percent in 2001 and 15 percent in 1997 .Parliament must still ratify the bill before it becomes law.
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