Morocco

Morocco: Enact legal reforms to strengthen punishments for sexual violence & prevent child marriage

Action Number: 
41.2
Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 May 29

28 JANUARY 2014 UPDATE:  Great news! Following nearly two years of sustained public pressure on the government on 22 January 2014 the Moroccan parliament amended Article 475 of the Penal Code - the law that was used to exempt rapists from punishment if they married their victim.

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Please write to the Moroccan authorities below, congratulating them on the proposed changes, and urging them to comply with their international and national obligations to end discrimination against women, by:

  • Swiftly passing and implementing the proposed amendments
  • Conducting a comprehensive review of all of Morocco’s laws, in collaboration with civil society organizations, to remove sex-based discrimination and ensure protection from violence
  • Training all law enforcement officers, particularly judges, on the revised Penal Code and family law without delay.

Letters should go to:

Mr. Mustafa Ramid
Minister of Justice and Liberties
Fax: +212 5-37-26-31-03

Email: krtmed@gmail.com

Ms. Bassima Hakkaoui

Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development
Fax: +212 5-37-67-19-17

Email: a.elouadi@social.gov.ma

Mr. Karim Ghelleb

Speaker of the House of Representatives
Fax: +212 5-37-67-77-26

Email: kghelleb@parlement.ma; parlement@parlement.ma

Letters: 

Dear Minister/Speaker of the House,

I welcome Parliament’s vote on 22 January 2014 approving revisions to Article 475 to no longer exempt a “kidnapper” from punishment if his underage victim marries him. Thank you for taking this important step to protect women from violence and discrimination. I respectfully urge you to continue this good work and move to delete the family law provisions that permit a judge to authorize the marriage of girls under the age of 18, so that marriage is only entered into by adults who are able to give their full and free consent.

Legal reforms such as these might have protected 16-year-old Amina Filali, who committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist, and 15-year-old Safae who was reported to have been pressured by a prosecutor and judge, in the name of preserving her “honor”, to drop the charges and marry her rapist. Safae twice attempted suicide as a result.

To comply with Morocco’s international and domestic legal obligations, and in support of Moroccan women’s organizations, I urge you to work for the swift passage and implementation of the proposed amendments to the family law. Please also support a comprehensive review of the Penal Code to remove all sex-based discrimination and ensure protection for women and girls from violence. I also urge you to ensure the immediate training of all law enforcement officers on the revised Penal Code and family law once enacted.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Morocco: Amend Penal Code to Protect Women Against Violence and Discrimination (HuffPo UK)

12/13/2012 -- Huffington Post UK -- "Morocco: Amend Penal Code to Protect Women Against Violence and Discrimination"; In solidarity with female victims of violence and discrimination, the "Spring of Dignity" coalition organised a human chain which started at the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice in Rabat and ended at the seat of the House of Representatives. Several hundred people took part.

Morocco: End the legal exemption for rapists who marry their victims

Action Number: 
41.1
Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2012 Mar 28
Update Date: 
2012 Dec 4
Update: 

UPDATE 20 MARCH 2013: In February 2013, the Moroccan Ministry of Justice and Liberties approved amendments to the Penal Code, which are said to strengthen punishments for sexual violence. Such changes include revisions to Article 475, which had the effect of exempting from punishment a rapist who subsequently married his minor victim. Deletions have also been proposed to the Personal Status Law to remove articles which allowed a judge to endorse early marriage under the legal age. Full discussion of these revisions in parliament has been postponed until the Spring. Although women’s groups in Morocco have welcomed these proposed amendments, they are calling for a full review of the Penal Code to revoke provisions which discriminate against women and to provide full protection for women against violence and discrimination. We will be issuing a full update, including further action you can take to support their work, as the process progresses.


UPDATE 4 DECEMBER 2012: In solidarity with female victims of violence and discrimination, the Spring of Dignity coalition is organizing a human chain that will start at the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice in Rabat and end at the seat of the House of Representatives on 8 December 2012. Moroccan women and men are calling on the government to amend the Penal Code, including article 475 that still sanctions the exoneration of a rapist if he marries his victim. The coalition, which includes more than 40 associations, networks and organizations, is also demanding the criminalization of marital rape, sexual harassment and psychological abuse, the legalization of safe abortion and the revision of discriminatory articles related to prostitution and trafficking under the Penal Code among other measures.

Equality Now joins the coalition and our partners in calling the Government of Morocco to amend the Penal Code to safeguard women’s rights. Please take Action and keep up the pressure on the Government of Morocco to end the legal exemption for rapists who marry their victims and to ensure that the prohibition on child marriage is enforced.


UPDATE 17 MAY 2012: 15-year-old Safae from Tangiers was raped and impregnated in January 2011 when she was 14. Though she and her mother filed a complaint, according to recent reports they were pressured to drop the charges by the prosecutor and the judge. Instead, without her parents being present, the judge allegedly made Safae marry her rapist in order to save her “honor.” By doing so, the law also removed the threat of criminal penalty on Safae’s rapist.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Safae gave birth to a girl in September 2011, but her rapist has disappeared and she and her daughter are not supported by him. Additionally, since the father is not named on the birth certificate, Safae’s rapist remains anonymous with his “honor” intact, while Safae is reported to be in a state of extreme depression, having twice attempted suicide.

As with the previous case of 16-year-old Amina Filali, who committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist, this highlights the difficulties faced by Moroccan girls in achieving justice in sexual violence cases. Union de L'Action Feminine, a Moroccan women’s rights group, and other civil society organizations continue to call for the repeal of Article 475, described in detail below, as well as for the repeal of laws permitting judges at their discretion to authorize marriage of minors who are younger than the minimum age of marriage of 18 including in cases of sexual violence. La Marche Des Femmes Libres is organizing demonstrations throughout the country to ensure that rapists are not absolved of their crimes. Action is urgently needed to develop child protection mechanisms, including judicial training, so that judges cannot and do not push girls into marrying their rapists.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Continue to call on the Moroccan government officials below to:

  • Repeal Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code and ensure that girls and women are protected from violence and have access to justice.
  • Ensure that the prohibition on child marriage is enforced and stop judges from coercing girls to marry their abusers particularly in cases of sexual violence.
  • Institute child protection measures and judicial training as matters of urgency. 
  • Comply with Morocco’s international legal obligations under the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as its own Constitution.

Help us spread the word about this campaign by sharing this Action with your friends.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!


On 11 March 2012, 16-year-old Amina Filali committed suicide by swallowing rat poison after being forced to marry her rapist. Neither Amina nor the rapist wanted to marry but court officials, including the prosecutor, suggested the marriage when the victim and her family reported the rape. Article 475 of the Penal Code of Morocco specifically exempts a minor’s “kidnapper” from punishment if she marries him. Culturally, the stigma of being raped is often too much for both rape victims and their parents, and many reluctantly agree to the marriage.

What You Can Do: 

Please call on the Moroccan government officials below to repeal Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code as a matter of urgency. Express the critical need, following the death of Amina Filali, to prevent future deaths and violations of girls’ and women’s rights and to ensure that girls and women are protected and have access to justice. Encourage them to comply with Morocco’s international legal obligations under the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as its own Constitution. >> TAKE ACTION NOW!

 
Letters should go to:

Ministry of Justice and Liberties
Mr. Mustafa Ramid
Minister of Justice and Liberties
Fax: +212 5-37-26-31-03
Email: krtmed@gmail.com

Ministry of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development
Ms. Bassima Hakkaoui
Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development
Fax: +212 5-37-67-19-17
Email: a.elouadi@social.gov.ma

House of Representatives
Mr. Karim Ghelleb
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Fax: + 212 5-37-67-77-26
Email: kghelleb@parlement.ma , parlement@parlement.ma
 

Letters: 

Dear Minister/Speaker of the House,

Following recent reports about 14-year-old Safae from Tangiers, who was allegedly forced by a judge to marry her rapist in order to save her “honor,” I urge you to work for the repeal of Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code, which specifically exempts a rapist from punishment if a girl marries him. In addition, I urge you to ensure that the prohibition on child marriage is enforced and to take measures to stop judges from coercing girls into marriage in cases such as this. I would respectfully encourage your government to do everything it can to ensure that girls and women are protected from violence and discrimination and have access to justice when they face abuse.

Countries with sex discriminatory laws like Article 475, such as Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Peru and Uruguay, have been amending them over the last several years. A very similar law in Argentina, Article 132 of the Penal Code, was just amended by the Argentine National Congress. If Morocco would do the same, this would also set an example for other countries in the region.

The repeal of Article 475 and ensuring that the prohibition on child marriage is enforced would be in line with the Moroccan Constitution and consistent with Morocco’s international legal obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Please also institute child protection measures and judicial training as matters of urgency to stop judges from marrying young girls to their rapists.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

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