Iraqi MP proposes polygamy incentive

family law

A female member of the Iraqi Parliament has proposed legislation which would offer men a financial incentive to marry more than one woman.

Polygamy has been legal for Muslim men in the war-torn country since 1959. A man who wants to marry another woman must obtain a judge’s approval. For that he has to demonstrate that he is “financially capable” of supporting more than one wife and have “legitimate reasons” for doing so. Such reasons include the man’s first wife being unable to have children.

Although this law has been labelled “backwards” by women’s rights organisations in the country for years, the practice has been increasing recently. In the last decade or so, the intense wars waged in Iraq have left many women as widows.

Now Jamila al-Ebeidi MP has suggested that the government should provide tax allowances for men who are married to more than one woman at a time in order to “protect the dignity” of widows and unmarried women. This “increasing spinsterhood and divorced women, who now exceed four million, is selfishness” she claimed.

Speaking to media outlets at the Iraqi Parliament building, al-Ebeidi said it was time to “renounce the one-woman mentality at the expense of our sisters”.

The proposal has been met with strong criticism from women’s rights groups and the parliamentary Women and Childhood Affairs committee. Kurdish MP and committee member Rezan Delir called the idea “an insult to women’s dignity” and an unnecessary “distraction from the war against the Islamic State”.

Last year, there were 53,182 divorces in Iraq, according to statistics from the country’s Federal Judicial Authority. However this number did not include divorces in December. If those numbers are added, the rate could be the highest since 2011 according to Iraqi News.

Image by Keoni Cabral via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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