Rabat – In Morocco, as in most of the Arab world, governments are still refusing to accept the fact that cohabitation based on mutual consent of a sane female and a sane male is one of the fundamental rights of any human being.
Most developed countries acknowledge that regulating cohabitation is just absurd. Besides, Moroccans have different morals independent of what unifies them in this country.
Many Moroccans are living together out of wedlock, or at the very least they are having sexual intercourse before marriage. Ibtissam Lachgar, an activist and co-founder of a campaign group to promote individual liberties, says she lives happily with her boyfriend in her apartment in the centre of the capital, Rabat.
“I don’t feel my sexual freedom is restricted, even though we’re not married. The neighbors don’t bother me, probably because I own my apartment,” she says. The problem begins, she says, when they travel to other towns and try to stay in a hotel. “It’s impossible; the law forbids it. They ask to see a marriage certificate. So we’re forced to seek alternative arrangements, like staying with friends.”
Ghassan, a PhD candidate researching Moroccan Drama who lives with his French girlfriend, Fanny, also added, “I don’t need to have a marriage contact in order to prove that I love my girlfriend. If the purpose of the law was to reduce the crime rate, I don’t think that a couple in love that live together under a mutual consent would harm society or it would be considered as a crime by any definition.”
Furthermore, a study conducted by the Moroccan Health Ministry in 2007 indicated that “36 percent of young Moroccan men have had sex outside marriage, while the number of unmarried young women who have lost their virginity is much lower, at 15 percent,” reported AFP.
The same study showed that the average age of marriage for men is 39 and 26 for women. It goes without saying that Moroccans do have sexual intercourse out of marriage, but the problem is that they prefer to keep such actions hidden due to shame or social traditions. The actual percentage of people having sex before marriage is undoubtedly higher, because not everyone would answer a question like that honestly, since sex out of marriage is illegal in Morocco.
The hypocrisy is exacerbated by the fact that foreign couples are exempt from this law, or at least they are not a part of the equation. There is no law that actually allows or forbids foreign couples’ booking one room for two adults without a marriage contract. However, there are what we call “conventions,” which can act as a judicial source.
In addition, the impact of sexual repression affects Moroccans’ Attitude and behaviors. From an academic view, many researchers linked deprivation of physical interaction among youngsters to the eventual development of violent and aggressive behaviors. James W. Prescott examined various cultures and discovered that high volumes of violence are correlated significantly with repression of premarital sexual activity.
“Premarital sexual freedom for young people can help reduce violence in a society, and the physical pleasure that youth obtains from sex can offset a lack of physical affection during infancy.” James W. Prescott said.
Objectively speaking, sexual repression is also one of the reasons behind the skyrocketing rates of sexual harassment in the Arab world. By observing Egypt, which according to the BBC is the second worst country for women to live in (followed by Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen) we can easily notice that the leading countries for sexual harassment are the same countries that oppress their people when it comes to sexual freedom. In short, sexual repression increases sexual harassment.
Moreover, the increase of late marriage in Morocco, due to unemployment and the changes in cost of living, has significantly escalated. That is to say, as Moroccan law criminalizes cohabitation. Populace will be sexually unsatisfied, which could lead to many negative behaviors like frustration, depression and violence.
Imagine if Morocco were a sexually liberated country. People would better understand that mutually consensual sexual consent is not a crime against anybody else. Youth would be able to enjoy the benefits of companionship and cohabitation without making a financial commitment that is often beyond their means. The legal disparity between foreigners and Moroccans would be reduced.
And finally, a more open sexual climate might even reduce sexual harassment and violence. Morocco can only benefit by reforming its restrictions on cohabitation.
Edited by Manon McGuigan
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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