Iraqi constitution still controversial

In the hands of males: A woman’s right to marriage, divorce, child custody, work.

Evidence of contention in Iraq’s constitution was shown from the beginning. Debate flared over how inclusive the process would be for the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish people; the three largest sectarian groups in Iraq. In fact, changes to the draft went all the way up until just a few days before the Oct. 15 public referendum.

On Oct. 15, 63 percent of the Iraqi people voted in the public referendum to approve the draft of what is to become their country’s constitution. The results of that vote, however, were delayed for a week because of what was termed “unusually high” approval votes.

The New York Times reported that some districts with large Shiite and Kurdish populations had 99 percent of votes supporting the draft. While it is known that these two groups mostly support the draft, the nearly 100 percent “yes” vote called the referendum into question.

Electoral fraud was ruled out after the Iraqi electoral commission released the first set of official results on the vote Saturday. The results showed the vote was split along ethnic and sectarian lines, but no significant evidence of fraud was found.

Still, in a time when Iraq has no electricity, no security, is on the verge of civil war, and many do not recognize the legitimacy of the U.S.-backed constitution, the significance of this vote is a moot point. What’s more, the constitution has critical gaping holes that still need to be worked through. For example, the constitution calls for the base source of all legislation to revolve around Islamic Sharia law. This means that a women’s right to marriage, divorce, child custody, access to work and education will be in the hands of men. Not to mention that its clarity in the area of private property provides opportunity for foreign companies to take all profit outside of Iraq.

Now that Iraq’s constitution has passed, Iraqis will vote for a new four-year parliament in December. We hope they will be able to address the holes of the Iraqi constitution in a fair and democratic manner.