KUALA LUMPUR // Women's rights activists in Iraq want what they describe as a mistake in the country's new constitution to be rectified, according to an Iraqi academic who attended the conference. Dr Fawzia al Attia, professor of sociology at Baghdad University who 30 years ago taught at Al Ain University, was referring to Article 41. It replaced what used to be known as the Personal Status Law, and had divided the country, she said.
It encouraged the Shiites into a "pleasure marriage", an arrangement in which a couple decide on the terms of the marriage and its end date, said Dr al Attia. Those who support it say that it legitimises sexual contact for those who may otherwise be unable to marry in the conventional sense, or who would otherwise engage in illicit sex. But opponents liken it to prostitution. Dr al Attia said Article 41 also encouraged taking multiple wives and solidified the right of a male heir to inherit twice the share of his sister, based on what some say is an outdated Islamic law that obliged men to support female relatives. Progressives say the rationale for the law no longer applies in today's society.