UPDATE: Iraq: Protect Iraqi Women's Rights in Family Laws

In January 2004, WLUML urged you to join Iraqi women's efforts and take action to oppose the Iraqi Governing Council's (IGC) 'Resolution 137' dated 29 December 2003 that proposed the introduction of Sharia law in personal status matters and to cancel all laws which are incompatible with this decision. It was reported on 27th February 2004, that the IGC has cancelled resolution 137.

Many thanks to all of you who responded to our call. We know that many letters were delivered to the IGC and to the Coalition authorities. This demonstrates the importance of such rapid response to support the struggle of women in Iraq. 

While this outcome is to be celebrated, we are sure that this will not be the last time that we will have to mobilise international support on behalf of Iraqi women in the coming months and years of reformulating their country’s constitution and government. 

A proposal to the IGC was submitted by Ms. Raja al Khazaai, an IGC member which demanded the cancellation of the resolution. Mr. Adnan Pachachi led the issue to a vote. The meeting was attended by 20 out of 25 of the IGC members. 15 voted to cancel resolution 137 and 5 members voted against, including one woman. Four members angrily left the meeting and went to discuss the matter with Mr Bremer. 

It is important to note that the resolution never came into effect because it had not been ratified by Bremer. 

Ms. Raja al Khazaai, had submitted the proposal to the IGC following the recommendation of the founding conference of the association that she had established called ‘The National Council for Iraqi Women’. The IGC did not consider the second part of the conference recommendation that demanded that ‘40% of the seats in all institutions such as the Parliament, government, etc. be held by women’ 

Women’s groups in Iraq have welcomed the decision to cancel resolution 137. Ms. Iman Abdel Gabar, the head of “The Association for the Future of Iraqi Women’ said ‘We welcome this step, as resolution 137 is a violation of women’s rights, and we consider this step to be the first step in gaining more rights’. Ms. Ahlam al A’wadi, a lawyer and activist said, ‘The IGC’s decision to cancel resolution 137 is the beginning of a long process for Iraqi women’. 

Due to the lack of information in the English language media, this update has been created from various sources in the Arabic media. For more information look at the following links in Arabic: 

Aman, the Arab Regional Resource Centre on Violence Against Women 

Middle East Online 

Al Watan