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WP: Iraq ‘Temporary Marriages’ Bush’s Fault

From those lovers of diversity at the Washington Post:

Temporary marriage certificate.

Temporary ‘Enjoyment Marriages’ In Vogue Again With Some Iraqis

By Nancy Trejos
Saturday, January 20, 2007; A01

BAGHDAD — Fatima Ali was a 24-year-old divorcee with no high school diploma and no job. Shawket al-Rubae was a 34-year-old Shiite sheik with a pregnant wife who, he said, could not have sex with him.

Ali wanted someone to take care of her. Rubae wanted a companion.

They met one afternoon in May at the house he shares with his wife, in the room where he accepts visitors seeking his religious counsel. He had a proposal. Would Ali be his temporary wife? He would pay her 5,000 Iraqi dinars upfront — about $4 — in addition to her monthly expenses. About twice a week over the next eight months, he would summon her to a house he would rent.

The negotiations took an hour and ended with an unwritten agreement, the couple recalled. Thus began their "mutaa," or enjoyment marriage, a temporary union believed by Shiite Muslims to be sanctioned by Islamic law.

The Shiite practice began 1,400 years ago, in what is now Iraq and other parts of the region, as a way to provide for war widows. Banned by President Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-led government, it has regained popularity since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq brought the majority Shiites to power, said clerics, women’s rights activists and mutaa spouses.

"During Saddam’s time, there was no religious freedom," said Faris al-Shareef, a sheik who lives in the mainly Shiite city of Hilla.

Opponents of mutaa, most of them Sunni Arabs, say it is less about religious freedom and more about economic exploitation. Thousands of men are dying in the sectarian violence that has followed the invasion, leaving behind widows who must fend for themselves. Many young men are out of work and prefer temporary over permanent wives who require long-term financial commitments. In a mutaa arrangement, the woman is entitled to payment only for the duration of the marriage…

Shiite clerics and others who practice mutaa say such marriages are keeping young women from having unwed sex and widowed or divorced women from resorting to prostitution to make money.

They say a mutaa marriage is not much different from a traditional marriage in which the husband pays the wife’s family a dowry and provides for her financially.

"It was designed as a humanitarian help for women," said Mahdi al-Shog, a Shiite cleric.

According to Shiite religious law, a mutaa relationship can last for a few minutes or several years. A man can have an unlimited number of mutaa wives and a permanent wife at the same time. A woman can have only one husband at a time, permanent or temporary. No written contract or official ceremony is required in a mutaa. When the time limit ends, the man and woman go their separate ways with none of the messiness of a regular divorce

Rubae had been in 15 mutaa marriages before. A year ago he entered into a permanent marriage with a woman who had been his mutaa wife for a day. When she became pregnant eight months ago, she suggested he take a temporary wife but asked him not to tell her if he did. She does not know about his involvement with Ali.

"As a pregnant woman, she cannot give me my needs," Rubae said. "She treats me real good and she wants me to be happy."

He chose Ali partly because her blond hair, light brown eyes and petite figure had always attracted him. "When she puts makeup on, it destroys her beauty," he said.

He also liked that she was religiously devout, and he said he wanted to keep her from a relationship outside of marriage

Of course the only reason that this article was published on the front page of the Washington Post was so that they could once again crow: Bush’s fault.

Banned by President Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-led government, it has regained popularity since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq…

Never mind that these temporary marriages have been hugely popular everywhere in the Middle East for a very long time. (As we have noted in several articles, such as here and here.)

If Bush hadn’t taken out that champion of women’s rights, Saddam Hussein, such outrages would never happen.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, January 20th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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