Abuse Of Temporary Marriages Flourishes In Iraq The practice, a way of having a "legitimate affair," was banned during Saddam Hussein's reign but returned after the American invasion. Some say there's a right way to do the muta'a, or fixed-term marriage, but others claim rampant misuse.

Abuse Of Temporary Marriages Flourishes In Iraq

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NPR's Kelly McEvers has the story.

U: (Foreign language spoken)

KELLY MCEVERS: This woman is so ashamed about what happened to her, she doesn't want to give her name. A mother of three, she says her husband abandoned her when she found out he preferred men. She had no way to support the family.

U: (Foreign language spoken)

MCEVERS: For the man at least, it was a brief moment of muta'a, the Arabic word for pleasure and the Arabic word for temporary marriage.

U: (Foreign language spoken)

MCEVERS: It was on this street that Kawthar Kadhim says she approached a religious scholar who works with one of the marja and asked for help.

MCEVERS: (Foreign language spoken)

MCEVERS: Her husband left her after the first Gulf War. Her father had tuberculosis and was coughing up blood. And her mother was paralyzed. The scholar told her to lift the veil from her face, and then he basically proposed.

MCEVERS: (Through translator) He said, would she accept to marry me, muta'a marriage? I said, no. And when he found out that I was refusing to marry him, he said, okay, let her go home, and then I will send for her if I get some money. And he never did that. He never sent for me.

MCEVERS: Nagham Kadhim runs a women's rights group in Najaf. She says muta'a marriage is a sensitive subject in the holy city. But she says abuse of the practice is common.

MCEVERS: (Through translator) The muta'a marriage happens when there is the economic factor, like when the woman is poor and cannot have money. And so, the religious institution would offer her those job opportunities through working for a kindergarten, looking after children. And then they would - she would receive like 100,000 dinars.

MCEVERS: Aqil al Shammari is a religious scholar who works with a handful of leading figures in Iraq's Shiite community. He explains that muta'a marriage goes all the way back to the Prophet Muhammad, who once told his traveling companions they could purchase a wife with a handful of dates if they were away from their regular wives.

MCEVERS: (Foreign language spoken)

MCEVERS: The people who do it, they say I'm doing it in the right way, but it feels like the line between the right way and the wrong way is very fine.

MCEVERS: (Foreign language spoken)

MCEVERS: Kelly McEvers, NPR News.

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