October 17, 2011
October 17, 2011
“Women, find a solution!” is the name of the campaign launched by Moroccan women activists against the phenomenon of sexual harassment that has been alarmingly spreading in the country.
The campaign’s page on the social networking website Facebook, which has so far attracted thousands of Moroccan women, criticized the prevalence of harassment in the Moroccan society.
The campaign hopes to mobilize Moroccan men and women to combat the phenomenon, said Tifawt Belaeed, one of its organizers.
“We want all those who take part in the campaign to start raising awareness about the social and psychological dangers of this phenomenon and to stage a women’s rally in November in the capital Rabat to demand that serious action be taken,” she said.
Belaeed explained that this rally would be totally different from other ones that took part in Canada and other European countries under the title “Slut Walk” and in which women took to the streets naked to protest violations committed against them.
“Our rally will be sensitive to the social traditions and religious culture of the Moroccan society.”
Activists who take part in the campaign, originally launched by Majdouline Lezidi, also criticizes women’s tendency to hide harassment incidents because of the conservative nature of the Moroccan society, in addition to fear of the reaction of family, friends, and co-workers. This, they argue, contributes to delaying finding a solution to the problem.
For preacher and Islamic researcher Omar Benhammad, not reporting harassment creates a kind of “psychological normalization” of the act in a way that makes it gradually acceptable for those in the habit of doing it.
“The less courage women have to report those incidents, the more confident men will feel doing them,” he said. “Women encourage men to go on doing that with their silence.”
It is noteworthy that the Ministry of Social Development, Family and Solidarity proposed a draft law that criminalizes sexual harassment and penalizes offenders with fines and jail sentences.
Despite pressure by women rights activists and organizations, the legislation has not yet been approved by the Moroccan parliament.
This draft bill, presented a few months ago, demands that a man who harasses a woman be sentenced to jail for a period ranging from two months to two years.