(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. State Department normally doesn't comment on draft legislation in other countries, spokesperson Heather Nauert told a news conference on Thursday.
But she made an exception for a draft law that received preliminary approval in the Iraqi parliament last week. The law (actually, amendments to a 1959 law) would allow girls as young as age 9 to marry (the current age is 18), among other "personal status" issues that would be governed by Shi'ite courts.
"Often we don't comment on other country's legislation, but we are completely against and oppose the idea of children marring adults," Nauert said. "And let's remember, it was not that long ago that we called out the depravity of ISIS for taking child prisoners, child brides and the sort.
"So this will an internal Iraqi matter, but we remain firmly opposed to the idea that any adult would attempt to marry a child in that fashion. A child is a child."
A reporter asked Nauert if the U.S. has voiced its opposition to the draft law to Iraq's Shia-led government:
"We have a lot of conversations with the Iraqi government. I would imagine that our -- our view on this is -- is well known. I know our ambassador over there meets with them a lot," Nauert said.
"Our primary conversations taking place with Iraq right now concern, you know, the territorial integrity and democracy of -- of Iraq. But whether or not this has been brought up, that -- that I just don't know. I know that this issue has come up in its parliament, before and it's -- it's failed in the past. So I'm not going to speculate where this is going to go, OK."
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) is urging the Iraqi Parliament to fully respect and protect women's rights:
Attaining equality between women and men and eliminating all forms of discrimination against women and girls are fundamental human rights and United Nations values, UNAMI said in a statement.
"Women and girls in Iraq have suffered violations of their basic human rights and violence in armed conflict, in particular under the terrorist group Daesh. They aspire that the realization of their rights should be prioritized with a view to achieving equality with men."