Iraqi bank Rasheed has reportedly started offering loans worth $ 8,400 (10 million dinars) to any government employee who wants to take a second wife.
Bank spokesperson Amal Al-Shuwaili, quoted by Rudaw said yesterday “Due to an abundance of loan applications to marry a second wife, Rasheed Bank has decided to loan 10,000,000 dinars to any employee wishing to marry a second wife”
Rasheed Bank is one of the largest state-owned banks in the country, with more than 138 branches across the country. To qualify for the loan repayable within five years, the applicant and his first wife must not have previously received similar state benefits.
“The applicant must be a permanent state employee with at least two years of service,” said Shuwali, adding that the applicant should have a guarantor who must also be a government employee. “Anyone can benefit from this amount of money, regardless of their location,” she said.
The announcement was not met without reactions on social media, with many women in particular voicing their disapproval of the move. Some users also expressed surprise at a time when Iraq is currently going through a financial crisis and experiencing high rates of youth unemployment. Delays are also reported in the payment of civil servants’ salaries.
Although the bank said “both sexes” are covered by the loan, reports Al Ain, feminist activist Dina Al-Saadi called the announcement an “insult to women”. Al-Saadi said: “Encouraging marriage by granting loans to applicants is something that degrades the dignity of the woman whose marriage is supposed to be out of desire and complete conviction and not to obtain material temptations.”
The reactions on social networks prompted the bank to publish a second statement clarifying the previous announcement in which it specified that the granting of the loan is conditioned on the request after “divorce or death” of one of the spouses. This means that those who wish to marry another woman while they are still married may not be eligible for the loan.
Economist Ali Al-Marsoumi was quoted by Al-Hurra like suggesting that the policy of encouraging borrowing from banks, especially with local currency, is a well-known policy in times of material crises in order to “fight inflation” and increase state imports. According to Al-Marsoumi, the decision is “economically justified”.
Although polygamy is illegal in most countries, it does exist, it is legally recognized in many Muslim countries under the rules of Sharia law, including Iraq. Last year, the chief imam of al-Azhar in Egypt, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the country’s highest religious authority, declared that men who wish to enter into polygamous marriages “must obey conditions of equity ”, in accordance with the Koranic injunctions.
“If there is no fairness, it is forbidden to have multiple wives,” he said.