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

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Action Number: 
41.2
Date: 
29 May 2013

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. It is our hope that such legal reform will help protect girls from suffering the similar fates of 16-year-old Amina Filali, who committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist, and 15-year-old Safae who twice attempted suicide after being pushed into marrying her rapist to save her "honor."

While this is an important step in the right direction, please maintain the campaign's momentum by continuing to call on the Moroccan government to protect girls from child marriage by amending the family law provisions which allow judges to authorize the marriage of minors, and to remove sex discrimination from all its laws. Thank you for your support.


10 DECEMBER UPDATE: After 16-year-old Amina Filali killed herself and 15-year-old Safae twice attempted suicide in 2012 after being forced to marry their rapists, thousands of you supported our call for justice. Amendments were proposed to the Moroccan Penal Code to overturn the law that is used to allow rapists to go free by marrying their victims, and to the family law to prevent judges from being able to authorize the marriage of minors. However, Parliament has still not adopted the amendments and the media is reporting that another girl, from Tetouan in northern Morocco, recently killed herself after being forced to marry her rapist.

Our partner, Spring of Dignity, is organizing a march in Morocco on 14 December 2013, in solidarity with the families of victims of violence and the women and girls who have died due to gender-based violence. The march will draw attention to discrimination against women in the legal system and mobilize public support for a call for a comprehensive law addressing violence against women and girls.

We need your help now to make sure the proposed amendments become law as soon as possible to protect girls like Amina and Safae. Please continue to write to the Moroccan authorities below.


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8 Dec. 2012 demonstration in Morocco calling “for a Penal Code to protect me from sexual harassment, rape, child marriage, violence against women, discrimination and exploitation, deprivation and marginalization.”  ©Spring of Dignity

In March 2012, Equality Now issued an Action following the suicide of 16-year-old Amina Filali, who swallowed poison after being forced to marry her rapist. We renewed our call a few months later after the rape and impregnation of 15-year-old Safae. She and her mother were pressured by a prosecutor and a judge to drop the rape charges. The judge allegedly then pushed Safae into marrying her rapist to save her “honor”.

Thousands of you supported Equality Now’s call to petition the Moroccan government so that in the future girls will be protected from a similar fate. Now, following significant pressure from the “Spring of Dignity” coalition, our Moroccan partners, and Equality Now members, the Moroccan Ministry of Justice and Liberties has approved amendments to the Penal Code that would strengthen punishments for sexual violence. Such changes include revisions to Article 475 to no longer exempt a “kidnapper” from punishment if his victim, being a minor, marries him. In addition, provisions of the family law permitting a judge to authorize marriage of a girl less than 18 years of age will be deleted. The proposals are scheduled to be discussed in parliament this summer.

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

While these steps are welcome, Moroccan women’s groups are also calling for a full review of the Penal Code to remove all provisions that discriminate against women and to insert provisions that protect women’s rights. Article 19 of the Moroccan Constitution maintains the principle of equality between women and men in the enjoyment of all human rights including those set out in international treaties to which Morocco is a party. Among these is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which Morocco ratified in 1993. The Constitution also establishes the State’s responsibility for achieving parity between women and men.

We need your help now to make sure the changes proposed by the Moroccan Ministry of Justice become law and that further changes are made to protect and promote the rights of women and girls in Morocco.

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,