As Iraq prepares to vote on its new constitution on Saturday, 11 members of the House of Representatives have sent a letter to President Bush expressing their concerns about the challenges facing Iraqi women and asking him to make public any plans he may have to ensure that women’s rights are safeguarded by the new Iraqi constitution.
The letter, sent October 7, credits the current draft of the constitution for continuing with the provision of the current Transitional Administrative Law which would set aside 25 percent of seats in the Council of Representatives for women, but expresses strong concern for other women’s rights that are not specifically addressed. Specific issues raised by the Representatives include the inadequate attention paid to violence against women, uncertain and abbreviated access to education, and a lack of legal protections for women.
“It’s imperative that the rights of Iraqi women are guaranteed in the new constitution,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), one of the signers of the letter. “We are very concerned that some provisions contained in the draft will result in family matters such as divorce, inheritance, and marriage being decided by religious, rather than civil, courts.”