Child brides in Iraq, our daughters are not for sale

Turmoil in the country has brought back an ancient vice.

The marriage of very young girls in Iraq is a traditional issue.

Since the inception of the Iraqi state in 1921 right through to the beginning of the Seventies, girls had no say in their marriage, it was purely a business arrangement made by the parents or custodian based on tribal customs and traditions.

Young women were "given" to another tribe as part of a deal, a practice that in Arabic is called "Fasliah" or "Settlement".

The woman in question could not hope to ask for a divorce in the future nor did she have any rights in her new household. Progress then changed matters slightly, and in the mid 1970's a law was passed that put a stop to tribal arranged marriages. This was a major step in the right direction, but was to be thwarted by the rise to power of Saddam Hussein, who promptly reinstated earlier customs.

The years of the UN Security Council embargo between 1990 and 2003 were probably the worst period ever in Iraq.

The economic situation of most Iraqis worsened and they were often unable to provide for their basic family needs. Some parents resorted to selling their daughters so they'd have one less mouth to feed and a better chance of helping the rest of the family thanks to the dowry received from the bridegroom's family.

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