Contact: Christie Hobbs
Phone: (202) 349-5889

WASHINGTON, DC — The Independent Women’s Forum urges Iraqi leaders to recognize and protect women?s rights as the constitutional drafters continue their crucial work.

Yesterday, Iraq’s National Assembly agreed to extend the deadline for approval of the draft constitution by seven days to August 22.

Of particular concern is the extent to which Islam will be a source of Iraqi law in the draft constitution. The imposition of shari’a, or Islamic law, as the main source of Iraq’s constitutional law would be a setback to democracy in Iraq, particularly for women. “In order for democratic institutions to succeed in Iraq, women must have the constitutional right to fully participate in the political, economic, and social structures of their country,” said Michelle Bernard, IWF senior vice president.

If sharia is a primary source of Iraq’s constitutional law, girls as young as 9 years old could be forced to marry and women could lose inheritance rights, be denied custody of their children, be subjected to their family’s approval to pursue academic studies or work, and be prohibited from holding positions of power.

IWF has been working with organizations like the American Islamic Congress, the Women’s Alliance for a Democratic Iraq, Women for a Free Iraq, and the More than Once Source Campaign, among others, to raise international public awareness of the importance of women’s rights in the constitution.

“We have seen through our work that Iraqi women have an unwavering commitment to freedom and the principles and practice of liberal democracy and we will continue to support their efforts during this critical time in Iraq’s history,” continued Bernard.