[JURIST] Special Representatives of theUN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten and for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba [official websites] on Monday urged [press release] the Iraqi government to reconsider proposed amendments in the Personal Status Law that do not set a minimum age for legal matrimony.
Gamba explained that
The boys and girls of Iraq, already victims of grave violations resulting from years of conflict, are now at risk of being deprived of their childhood. The Government of Iraq must take all necessary actions to protect every child by preventing the adoption of policies that can harm children already exposed to armed conflict.
Patten and Gambo noted that Iraq has "legally binding commitments under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child" which could be breached under the adoption of these new policies. Gamba contends that failing to place a minimum age on marriage "would represent a significant step back from those commitments."
In 2016, Iraq signed an agreement [press release] with the UN formally committing themselves to the prevention of conflict-related sexual violence. Patten noted that her office received repeated assurances that Iraq would continue to uphold these commitments from 2016. Gamba and Patten concluded with their own reassurance that they would fully support the "Government and people of Iraq to ensure that the scourge of sexual violence is eliminated and that children affected by armed conflict are protected."