A shocking documentary by the BBC has revealed that little Iraqi girls as young as nine are being sold for sex in temporary ‘marriages’ that can last as little as an hour.
An undercover video has substantiated claims that Shia clerics are offering ‘pleasure marriages’ in which men, usually banned from having sex outside marriage, can pay a dowry for a short-term “wife.”
One cleric explained that under Islamic law, little girls as young as nine-year-old would be “no problem at all.”
Though the practice is “officially” banned in Iraq, eight out of 10 Shia clerics who were approached in the operation were willing to carry it out – and one of them even offered to help procure young girls, the BBC News investigation found.
The religious rite dates back centuries and some Iraqi men and Shia clerics use it as a facade to traffic in child prostitution.
One cleric in Karbala, an important religious site in Iraq, stated, “According to Sharia, there’s no problem.”
Asked what happens if the girl gets hurt, the cleric said: “That’s between you and her.”
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Later in the documentary, that second cleric went even further and offered to help procure the girls as well as conducting the marriages.
Offering to take a photo of a girl and send it to the undercover client, he added: ‘Then when you come back, she’s yours.’
The length of the marriage must be specified in advance, and can be fixed at as little as one hour. Some girls said that clerics had provided them with “contraceptive injections” to ensure they did not become pregnant.
The practice is not permitted under Sunni Islam and was banned under Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-led government. The Shia form is Islam is the predominant sect of Iran and Sunni is strongest in Saudi Arabia. Currently, the two countries are involved in a conflict that will determine which country holds sway over the entire Middle East.
The practice flourished in the wake of the 2003 invasion as Iraq’s new government struggled to impose its authority on the country and Shia clerics grew in influence with Iranian pressure.
One girl said she could not even remember how many times she had been ‘married’.
Young women also fear that losing their virginity in a temporary marriage will leave them unable to find a permanent husband in the future.
One 14-year-old said she feared the consequences if a future husband found out that she was not a virgin.
However, an Iraqi government spokesman said there was little that authorities could do if girls did not complain to the police.
–Mail Online and wire services