Young girls in Iraq are being sold into so-called ‘pleasure marriages’ that can last as little as an hour for the purposes of sex, the BBC reported.
The girls are typically offered by Shi’ite clerics, despite the practice being banned. As many as 10 clerics agreed to carry out such an arrangement when asked.
This custom is permitted by Sharia law, one of the clerics said, adding that marrying such a young girl temporarily is acceptable.
According to the BBC, the girls are often exploited, with one of them not being able to remember how many times she was ‘married.’
While the practice was banned under the Sunni regime of Saddam Hussein, it resurfaced back in 2003 after the invasion of Iraq, which helped increase the power and influence of Shi’ite clerics.
The war and ensuing violence also caused many young women to drop out of school to work and support sick parents or siblings who were injured. With some of them not being able to read and write, their options are limited and they are easily exploited by men who offer them such ‘marriages.’ The contract the woman gets from the cleric has an expiration date on it, yet a person who can’t read would not be able to know this.
The authorities said they have very few options to work with unless the girl complains to the police. “If women don’t go to the police with their complaints against clerics, it’s difficult for the authorities to act,” they told the BBC.
In some cases, the clerics who officiate the marriages become de-facto pimps, take pictures of the girls and offer them to men.
And they sometimes agree to arrange for a man a child who is only 9 years old, the report claimed.