Shia clerics were filmed offering ‘pleasure marriages’ in which men, usually banned from having sex outside marriage, can pay a dowry for an interim wife.
One cleric claimed it would be ‘no problem at all’ to marry girls as young as nine under Islamic law.
The practice is banned in Iraq but eight out of 10 Shia clerics who were approached were willing to carry it out – and one of them even offered to help procure young girls, the BBC News investigation found.
One cleric in Karbala, an important religious site in Iraq, told the undercover BBC journalist that girls as young as nine could be subject to the procedure.
‘According to Sharia, there’s no problem,’ he said, when asked if it was acceptable to conduct a temporary marriage with a young girl.
When the reporter voiced concern that he was exploiting the girl, the cleric told him: ‘No way’.
Another cleric, also filmed secretly, was asked if a temporary marriage with a 13-year-old virgin would be permissible under Islamic law.
‘Just be careful she doesn’t lose her virginity,’ the cleric replied, suggesting other forms of sexual interaction instead.