The Morroccan Government has announced plans to change its rape marriage law nearly a year after the nation was shocked by the suicide of a 16-year old Amina al-Filali who poisoned herself after being forced to marry her (alleged) attacker. Her parents and a judge had pushed the marriage to “protect” the family honor.
According to a paragraph in Article 475 of the Morrocan penal code, “those convicted of ‘corruption’ or ‘kidnapping’ of a minor are allowed to go free if they marry their victim.” While Morroco’ s marriage age is 18, judgement in accord with the traditional practice (also employed across the Middle East, India and Afghanistan, etc.), has routinely approved much younger unions.
Now, for the first time, an Islamic nation has announced that it will formally outlaw that tradition.
While the move by Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid is being welcomed by women’s rights activists both here and abroad, the move is seen as only a first step in reforming a penal code that does not do enough to end violence against women in the North African kingdom.
"Changing this article is a good thing but it doesn't meet all of our demands," said Khadija Ryadi, president of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights. "The penal code has to be totally reformed because it contains many provisions that discriminate against women and doesn't protect women against violence."
She pointed out in particular outmoded parts of the law that distinguish between "rape resulting in deflowering and just plain rape." The new article proposed Monday, for instance, gives a 10-year penalty for consensual sex following the corruption of a minor but doubles the sentence if the sex results in "deflowering."
Fouzia Assouli, president of the Democratic League for Women's Rights, echoed Ryadi's concerns, explaining that the code only penalizes violence against women from a moral standpoint "and not because it is just violence."
"The law doesn't recognize certain forms of violence against women, such as conjugal rape, while it still penalizes other normal behavior like sex outside of marriage between adults," she added. Recent government statistics reported that 50% of attacks against women occur within conjugal relations.
For a related article see http://www.examiner.com/article/sexual-assaults-military-likened-to-a-ca...