UPDATE: The deadline for the new Iraqi constitution has been extended, and the role of religious law and women's rights remains controversial. Please sign and forward to your friends today!
Women in Iraq have more to fear these days than the horrors of war. As the August 15 deadline approaches for the completion of the new Iraqi constitution, women in Iraq fear that their hard-won rights could disappear.
Iraq, January 30, 2005: Women waiting to vote in elections. (Photo courtesy U.S. Embassy Baghdad.)
Iraq's existing laws regarding women's rights are some of the most progressive in the Middle East, guaranteeing women the right to vote, attend school, run for political office, and own property.
But Article 14 of the new draft constitution aims to replace these laws with Islamic Sharia law - which could dramatically affect women's rights in marriage, court, education and the political system. The draft constitution also does not guarantee Iraqi women a substantial representation in Parliament, as the current interim constitution does.
A renewed interpretation of Sharia law would turn back the clock on women's rights in Iraq. As the occupier of Iraq, the United States is obligated to uphold international law guaranteeing human rights for all Iraqi people, including the full range of rights for women.
Stand up for Iraqi women! Send a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today and urge her to advocate to protect the rights of women in Iraq by working with the Iraqi government to repeal Article 14 and guarantee women's rights under the law.
I am writing to express my deep concern for the rights of Iraqi women under Iraq's draft constitution. [Your personal comments] You recently said that you support women's rights, but that there's little you can do about it if the Iraqi people don't.
The reality is, Iraqi women rallied on the streets to get 25% representation in the legislature. They've held conferences on the constitution and advocated for specific language. In fact, the first post-war poll of Iraqi women release by Women for Women International showed that 94% of Iraqi women wanted to secure their rights.
I am gravely concerned about Article 14 and a renewed interpretation of Sharia law. Women could be denied the right to freedom of movement, education, property inheritance, and custody of their children. This Article is a threat to democracy and to the fundamental human rights of women.
[Your personal comments]
As the occupier of Iraq, the United States is obligated to uphold international law guaranteeing human rights for all Iraqi people, including the full range of rights for women. I urge you to condemn Article 14 and to work directly with Iraqi women and the Iraqi Governing Council to maintain the current guarantee of substantial representation in Parliament for women and to ensure that Iraqi women are guaranteed full rights under the law in the new constitution.