Morocco OKs law against violence on women, wives excluded

Harassment through text messages punished but not spousal abuse

15 February, 10:33

    (ANSAmed) - RABAT, FEBRUARY 15 - Morocco's parliament has approved legislation against violence on women. It took 1,200 days for MPs to approve law 103-13, also known as 'Hakkauoi law', after Family and Solidarity Minister Bassima Hakkaoui who promoted it.

    The legislation obtained its second and final approval on Valentine's Day with 168 yes votes and 55 nays and is considered a step forward to promote gender equality.

    The law's first vote dates back to June 2006, when 83 lawmakers voted in favor and 22 against.

    The legislation now extends the term violence to acts of aggression and abuse via text messages, vocal messages or photos, sexual exploitation, aggression and abuse in the workplace and harshens punishment in situations like pregnancy or in the event that violence is perpetrated by people who are known to the victim, like colleagues. However, the legislation does not contemplate spousal abuse, a controversial issue in civil society.

    From now on, someone who abuses a woman on the street can be sentenced to six months in prison while someone who forces a minor into marriage can get one year. However, prosecuting spousal violence is still difficult, although the national council for human rights CNDH has urged an amendment to the legislation in this sense. Article 486 of the Moroccan criminal code punishes sexual violence but is ambiguous in its definition, according to experts.

    The approval of this law closes the winter session of parliament. The 395 MPs of the House chaired by Socialist MP Habib El Malki and 120 Senators led by Hakim Benchmach will meet again on April 14 for the spring session. (ANSAmed).

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