Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Women's rights not looking good in new Iraqi constitution

At the Republican National Convention last summer, George W. Bush declared that with the "use of American power" in Afghanistan and Iraq, "young women across the Middle East will hear the message that their day of equality and justice is coming."

The message is sounding a little bit quieter today in Iraq, where the latest draft of the constitution includes a reduction in the rights of women originally granted in the interim constitution.

From the New York Times Online today:
A working draft of Iraq's new constitution would cede a strong role to Islamic law and could sharply curb women's rights, particularly in personal matters like divorce and family inheritance.
[...]
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.
[...]
The document's writers are also debating whether to drop or phase out a measure enshrined in the interim constitution, co-written last year by the Americans, requiring that women make up at least a quarter of the parliament.

On a positive note, the draft does include many provision aimed at civil rights including the first which states that "all Iraqis are equal before the law" and a final article forbidding censorship of the press.

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