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Morocco: “Progressive” Minister Comes Under Fire for Supporting Polygamy

Employment Minister Abdeslam Seddiki
Employment Minister Abdeslam Seddiki

Rabat – Employment Minister Abdeslam Seddiki is under fire for a pro-polygamy statement at the 56th session of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, held this week in Geneva.

Abdeslam Seddiki who is member of the Progress and Socialism Party (PPS), made an impassioned speech defending polygamy, under the pretext that in a traditional environment, “the husband wants his wife to give him a baby boy.”

Women’s rights activists in Morocco have criticized his statement. Lakoume quoted Saida Kouzi, a Moroccan activist, as saying that Seddiki’s statement doesn’t meet the expectations of women’s associations, which have been struggling for years against polygamy.

Lahbib Ben Cheikh, a Moroccan lawyer, told the Moroccan outlet that such a conservative statement should not have been made by a politician who belongs to a “progressive” party.

Abdeslam Seddiki also angered Moroccan Amazigh associations, as he claimed during his speech that some Amazigh movements in Morocco want to create discord between Moroccans.

“The Amazigh language is a false debate; the Amazigh movements’ reports aim to create division between Moroccans and mislead experts,” said the Minister, who led the Moroccan delegation in Geneva during the session.

Azetta Amazigh, a Moroccan Amazigh movement, condemned Seddiki’s statement in a press release. “Such a statement is destructive and intends to block the voluntary and activism of civil society, as well as its advocacy programs.”

Stephanie Willman, Founding Partner at MRA Mobilizing for Rights Associates, who participated with other Moroccan NGO’s supporting women issues in Morocco, told Morocco World News how she was “shocked” by the Minister’s statement.

Seddiki’s statement was “astonishing,” according to her, especially in an international forum discussing women’s rights.

“We and a host of Moroccan women NGOs attended the session in the hopes to get official clarification from the [Moroccan] government as to when the long overdue Violence against women law would be passed. Instead, we had to hear how it’s “normal for men to want to take another wife,” she said.

“I was flabbergasted that a Minister – as the Head of the Moroccan government delegation – and one from a supposedly progressive party – would make such statements in an international forum,” she added.

“It’s normal for people to want things, but one can’t always have everything he or she wants. That’s why there are laws – to make sure that one person’s wants don’t violate the human rights of others – in this case, of women’s human rights to be treated with dignity as equal human beings,” Stephanie concluded.

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