Middle East: Bank announces loan for second marriage, faces flak

Cairo: An Iraqi state-owned bank has announced a loan for civil servants marrying for the second time. The move has provoked anger among pro-women advocates.

Al Rasheed Bank offers loan to the civil servants marrying for the second time on condition that neither he nor his first wife has benefited from a marriage loan. Beneficiaries will get a loan of 10 million Iraqi dinars (8,389 dollars). The other condition for availing loan facility is he should be in service for at least two years.

The bank faces flak for the offer. Hanan Al Fatlawi, an advisor to the Iraqi prime minister for women’s affairs, has tweeted “It is shameful that such a statement comes from a respectable government bank. Women are not a commodity for display or sale.”

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Describing it as a sign of “administrative confusion”, Iraqi lawmaker Rizan Al Sheikh called for scrapping of the controversial loan. She urged Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi to step in. She warned to stage street protests unless the decision is revoked.

Gulf News quoted Al-Sheikh as saying, “Government and private banks should shift towards a policy of employing the woman and motivating her success by offering loans for small-scale projects instead of turning her into a commodity through unfair decisions.”

Denying that the loan is aimed at encouraging second marriages, the bank claimed that the same is meant for those who are divorced and widowed, and people with special family circumstances. It further stated “As a bank, we have no legal right to prevent or encourage second marriage. This loan is available for men and women, and designated for those whose circumstances may oblige them to marry again”.

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