Morocco: no forced marriage, rapists to stand trial

Law amendment approved overnight

23 January, 16:36

    International Women's Day in Rabat, Morocco International Women's Day in Rabat, Morocco

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, JANUARY 23 - Morocco's Parliament unanimously approved an amendment to a law so as to ban the possibility for a rapist to avoid prosecution by marrying his victim. The decision comes two years since the tragic suicide of Amina el Filali, 16, seven months after she had been forced to marry a man who had allegedly raped her to protect her honour.

    Last March, the Chamber had backed the measure first proposed by the Islamic government following the shock caused throughout the country by Amina's suicide.

    The incident sparked calls from local and international human rights groups for the law to be changed and the practice of forced marriage, a tradition across the Middle East, to be banned.

    Parliamentary sources said the next battle will be to ban marriage for minors, an alarmingly common practice in the country. While the legal age to marry in Morocco is officially 18, magistrates routinely approve much younger unions.

    Activists have also been calling for a sweeping change to the country's rape laws.

    Although a new Constitution approved in 2011 recognizes gender equality and calls on authorities to guarantee it, sexual harassment and domestic violence are reportedly commonplace in Morocco.

    A bill first advocated by the government which provides for jail terms of up to 25 years for those convicted of violence against women, is still being drafted. (ANSAmed)

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