Two key PACE rapporteurs appealed to their fellow Iraqi parliamentarians not to vote a bill called the “Jaafari law”, which would legalise forced and child marriage and marital rape. Stella Kyriakides (Cyprus, EPP/CD), General Rapporteur on children, and José Mendes Bota (Portugal, EPP/CD), General Rapporteur on violence against women, said that the law, which would apply to the majority Shia community in Iraq, would mean that children in Iraq could be legally married and divorced at the age of nine.
“This law, if voted, would be a major setback to children’s and women’s rights in Iraq,” the rapporteurs cautioned. Current Iraqi law sets the legal age for marriage at 18 without parental approval and states girls as young as 15 can be married only with a guardian's approval. It does not allow for special provisions according to religious affiliation.