14 Aug 2014

ACDI/VOCA - Awareness Workshop on Unregistered Marriage Transforms a Widow’s Life

Responding to an increase in unregistered marriages in Diyala's communities, CSO Bothoor Al-Khaer Humanitarian Organization for Immigrants and Exiles coordinated with the USAID/BPCS program-sponsored civic participation (CP) Hub in Khanaqin to conduct an awareness-raising workshop on the harmful repercussions for women and children who marry without appropriate legal registration. The workshop educated 15 female participants, some of them victims of this experience, on the hazards of illegal, common-law and unregistered marriage. One participant, Mrs. Muna Mohammed (name changed for security), shared that she had been happily married until the sudden death of her husband in a terrorist attack that had left her on her own with a small child to support. The young couple, introduced to each other through family relationships and unaware of their legal obligations, had not registered their marriage with their local court.
Without legal sanction of her marriage, Mrs. Mohammed was ineligible to receive government benefits for herself as a widow, or for her son, who could not be legally recognized as the legitimate offspring of her marriage.  But her participation in Bothoor Al-Khaer’s initiative has changed all this and provided her with a lifeline. “The workshop,” said Mrs. Mohammed, “gave me not only hope, but also the tools I needed to remedy my situation.” Immediately after her participation in the workshop she initiated proceedings with her local courts. Two months later she finally succeeded in legally registering both her marriage and her child. Although important, this has not just resulted in satisfaction of a legal requirement. Mrs. Mohammed now receives financial aid provided by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) to widows and divorcees in Diyala. 
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