Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Proposed amendment to the Iraqi civil status code No. 188 of 1959: Paedophilia and the disruption of national identity

Guest Contributor, Dr. Faris Kamal Nadhmi, is a founding member and President of the Iraqi Association for Political Psychology. He is the author of many studies, most recently, THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PROTEST IN IRAQ: From the Rise of Islamism to the Emergence of Nationalism.  Dr. Nadhmi teaches at Salahiddin University in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The long social history of mankind has always had times when its crimes have been legitimized or justified via their institutionalization in a deep-rooted framework arising from a supposedly “infallible” law derived sometimes from “theological necessities,” and at other times, from worldly customs and norms. The cruelest injustices and worst abasement of human dignity have always occurred under the cover of titles such as “sacredness” or “justice”. 
It is easy to reproduce injustice via the letter of the law, and to abuse humanity by the authority of the holy text which “cannot be accountable” so long as it stands on the basis of legislation that remains in the grip of “true” authority derived from the metaphysics of heaven, or of the earth - it really makes no difference. 
In Iraq, we dealt with this idea some three years ago when there was an attempt in the Iraqi Parliament to pass a draft bill on the Ja’fari civil status codes. It was successfully frustrated at the time by the efforts of civil activists, including many women and youth. 
Gen. 'Abd al-Karim Qasim,
Today, in the same parliament, there is an ongoing effort to revive this effort, but with more cleverness and deceit. On 1st November 2017, a proposal was introduced to amend the civil status code, No. 188 of 1959, enacted by the regime of Gen. 'Abd al-Karim Qasim in 1959, by adding new articles, or substituting some existing articles for new ones. This effort is dedicated to the Islamization of Iraqi state and society, and replacing the rational organisational bases of Iraq's civil status codes with selective contexts, about which promote neurotic psychological and sociological tendencies.
Taking the proposed amendments altogether, their motivations and consequences can be assessed as follows:
1    These amendments, in their essence, are nothing more than a political effort which seeks to impose a cultural hegemony on authority, in a defining moment before the parliamentary elections, by reproducing a society according to a limited and hubristic theocratic vision.  This vision is in conflict with the determinants of natural humanity and is in contradiction with the rational development of the concept of the family across history.
2.      If the social purpose envisaged by the marriage bond is the establishment of a rational nuclear family, characterized by the ability to organize its economic, emotional and sexual affairs for the benefit of a well-ordered society, then what is the purpose of legislation that eschews the high standards of discipline, civilization and rationality, and sinks instead to the depths of childishness, compulsion, and sexual abuse?! 
Iraqi women protest against the proposed Ja'fari Law, May 2014
The overturning of the particular article which limits the age of female marriage to 18 years, and makes it, according to the conditions of religious jurisprudence (which could mean permitting a girl to be married at age 9 and allowing particular sexual practices with her according to some of the marja’iyaat) means the legitimization of paedophilia, which is considered a sexual-psychological mental disorder. 
   This definition of paedophilia as a disorder is one which has been made by the World Health Organisation. It is likewise prohibited in international covenants, including the Covenant on the Rights of the Child issued by the United Nations in 1990, to which Iraq became a signatory in 1994.
4.    The current proposals rob the civil judge of his authority, springing from the overarching identity of the state, and redistributes it between administrative authorities such as the Administration of Awqaf and other theological authorities, such as the religious muraja’, both of which have fundamental disagreements on their interpretations of Islamic jurisprudence (al-fiqh). This creates an intentional breach in the coherence of national identity as an essential condition for social harmony and civilizational awakening.
5  This change in Iraq's Civil Status Law will lead to the individual establishing a closed, sectarian mental picture of her/his sect and religion, thereby undermining citizens' ability to develop feelings of national belonging towards other Iraqis. This potential outcome, should the law be amended, is consistent with the destructive function which a sectarian political Islam has played in Iraq.  As an ideology, political Islamism has sought, and still seeks, to undermine the entity of the “nation-state,” which cannot cohere and develop a national sense of identity if based sectarian foundations which promote social and cultural fragmentation and exhaustion.
Baghdad
6/ 11/ 2017

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