Women councillors in Iraq province must have male chaperones

Women councillors in an Iraqi province must from now on be accompanied to local government offices by male chaperones to protect their moral fiber, politicians in the region said on Tuesday.

Published: 12:54AM GMT 25 Nov 2009

“All 28 members of the Wasit provincial council voted in favour of this decision,” said Alaa Ismail Hajem, a member of the Constitutional Party which is led by Jawad al-Bolani, the interior minister.

“I voted for it to respect social traditions, and my sisters, who are members of Islamic parties, approved it for religious reasons,” she told AFP.

The proposal was approved last Thursday and came into force in the southern province on Tuesday.

“Now, elected representatives will be able to continue their work because their ’marham’ (chaperone in Arabic) will accompany them from their home to work,” Miss Hajem said.

According to strict interpretations of Islamic tradition, a woman should not travel without being accompanied by a marham, who should be either her husband or a man she cannot marry, such as her father, son or uncle.

“We decided to pay 200,000 dinars (£100) a month to each chaperone, as requested by representatives of the Islamic parties,” said Sunduz al-Dahabi, who belongs to the Iraqi National List of former prime minister Iyad Allawi.

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