'Til lunch do us part

The four hour marriage in Iraq

...For richer for poorer. In sickness and in health. T’il death do us part.

Whilst you hope it lasts a lifetime, the average marriage in the UK lasts 11 years. In parts of Iraq, a marriage can last just four hours.

The practice of muta’a – or ‘temporary marriage’ is common in Shiite Muslim countries but was banned in Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

Sex outside marriage is taboo in Iraq, and prostitution is strictly forbidden. But amidst 45% unemployment rates and extreme poverty, we’re seeing many parents forced to ‘sell’ their daughters into a temporary marriage which may last from a few hours to a month.

The marriages are sanctioned by local clerics but once girls (usually aged 13 and upwards) have been temporarily married, it’s unlikely that a man will accept them as a ‘permanent’ wife in the future.

We’re providing direct psychosocial and legal help to girls who have been temporarily married and we’re also helping their families to generate a better income so they don’t have to ‘sell’ their daughters in marriage just to put food on the table.