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12-year-old girl reportedly undergoes ‘religious’ marriage in Iraq

An Iraqi court on Sunday, November 21, adjourned a hearing to allow a man to formalise his ‘religious’ marriage to a 12-year-old girl, according to a lawyer for the girl’s mother.

Rights activists protested outside the Baghdad court in Iraq with banners such as “the marriage of minors is a crime against childhood”, with lawyer Marwan Obeidi telling AFP the case had been postponed until November 28.

The mother, who refuses to be identified, said her daughter Israa had been “raped” and that the girl’s father kidnapped her.

But a Department of the Interior Ministry in Iraq dealing with violence against women said in a statement that it had met with Israa, her father and husband, seeing the religious contract, and said she had assured them she was not coerced into marriage.

The legal age for marriage in Iraq is 18 but can be lowered to 15 in cases of parental or judicial consent, according to Charity, ‘Save the Children’

“Religious marriages are not permitted outside civil or religious courts but these types of marriages still happen regularly and can be formalised on the payment of a small fine,” it said in a recent report.

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