Petition Demands BBC Removes Doc Exposing Islamic 1-Hour Child 'Pleasure Marriages'
Undercover report films clerics offering children as young as 9 to adults under Sharia Law
A petition has emerged demanding that the BBC removes an undercover documentary exposing the practice of Islamic 1-hour-long "pleasure marriages," which allow men to sexually abuse children under Sharia Law.
The exposé features reporters going undercover in Iraq, where they meet with Islamic clerics willing to perform the ceremony to facilitate child rape.
Some of the clerics were even filmed offering to procure children as young as 9 years old to adults for the assault that would be technically legal under Islamic laws.
More than 17,000 people have signed the petition demanding the BBC takes down the documentary exposing how young Iraqi girls are being sold for sex.
The petition accuses the filmmakers of being "disrespectful" to law-abiding Shia Muslims.
"Undercover With The Clerics - Iraq's Secret Sex Trade" was broadcast by the BBC on October 3 as is an investigative report into the sexual exploitation of children and young women by clerics in Iraq.
As Neon Nettle previously reported, journalists caught clerics offering girls as young as nine for "pleasure marriages" - where men banned from sex outside marriage can pay a dowry for an interim wife and "legitimize" the "affair."
The practice is banned in Iraq but eight out of 10 Shia clerics who were approached were willing to carry it out, the BBC World investigation found.
But now more than 17,000 people have signed an e-petition demanding the BBC removes the show from the iPlayer streaming service.
The petition, published on the change.org website - set up by 'Mo K' - accuses the corporation of "cherry-picking" [...] "misguided men who do not represent Shia Islam in any way."
But a BBC spokesman told the Daily Mail that it won't be deleted, saying: "This thorough investigation was conducted over an 11-month period and exposes the sexual exploitation of children and young women.
"The documentary fully complies with BBC Editorial Guidelines."
The petition says the program was made to "tarnish the image of Iraq and Shias worldwide."
It claimed the women and girls in the show "did not know that it was being used to belittle Shia Islam" and their words "would be used against their faith."
The petition reads: "To the BBC.
"When we asked for representation, we weren't expecting this mockery.
"The BBC have [sic] recently published a documentary titled 'Iraq's Secret Sex Trade', in which they go undercover to reveal the heinous crimes committed by a number of men who claim to follow the Shia faith.
"Instead of making a documentary about the world's largest, peaceful, annual pilgrimage held in Iraq, hosting 20 million people each year; the BBC have decided to cherry-pick a handful of misguided men who do not represent Shia Islam in any way, shape or form to tarnish the image of Iraq and Shias worldwide.
"Please sign this petition if you stand with the Shia Muslims who feel that their religion is being gravely misunderstood.
"This is not just embarrassing, it is the utmost disrespect.
"To implicitly label us all as compliant with child prostitution is an absolute disgrace.
"Those who partake in these acts are not our Shias."
As part of the show, BBC Arabic's Nawal Al-Maghafi explores claims since 2003 - that Iraqi women have been trapped into prostitution and pimped out by the religious elite.
One young widow alleged that a cleric sold her to his friends in a prostitution ring, while secret filming revealed another cleric conducting a "pleasure marriage" with a girl, 13.
In Karbala, Iraq's most important religious city, the undercover reporter is introduced to a cleric who claims pleasure marriage with a child is halal: "Nine years old plus, there's no problem."
Footage showed him explaining: "It's up to you how you want to do it, she's permitted to you.
"You're allowed to perform from behind. Do what you desire."
Asked what happens if the girl gets hurt, the cleric said: "That's between you and her."
Iraqi girls as young as 9-years-old are being sold for sex in temporary "#PleasureMarriages" that can last as little as one hour long, an undercover BBC documentary has revealed.— Neon Nettle (@NeonNettle) October 5, 2019
READ MORE: https://t.co/ECz9e4EYfO
Two of the three clerics secretly filmed by BBC Arabic describe themselves as followers of Ayatollah Sistani, one of the most senior figures in Shia Islam.
However, in a statement to the BBC, as part of the show, the Ayatollah said: "If these practices are happening in the way you are saying then we condemn them unreservedly.
"Temporary marriage is not allowed as a tool to sell sex in a way that belittles the dignity and humanity of women."
But thousands have slammed the BBC for allegedly tarnishing Islam "on national television at prime time on Friday evenings" by signing the petition.
The petition accuses the program of ignoring the "world's largest, peaceful, annual pilgrimage held in Iraq, hosting 20 million people each year."