Morocco World News
Fez, March 16, 2012
Where is the truth in Amina Filali’s case? Was she a sinner or a rape victim? Does the public have to blindly sympathize with her case or should we keep digging for the real facts behind what really happened to her? This story has received overwhelming media coverage in and out of Morocco. Civil society, NGOs and social media activists have adopted her cause and called for reform in the Moroccan penal code, especially article 475.
Amina Filali, a 16 year old girl, was allegedly raped and then married to the rapist, after a judge in her city, Larache, ordered a rape marriage which basically freed the alleged rapist of any crime. A few months later, Amina committed suicide by drinking rat poison.
For the past few days, Amina has been considered by the majority of people as a young girl who was a victim of a double crime; a victim of rape and a victim of forced marriage. Everyone can identify with this case, and no one can imagine a situation worse than Amina’s.
This case opened a controversial debate among the Moroccan public who are now calling for the abolition of Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code. This article clearly states: “whoever tricked or kidnapped a minor under the age of 18 without the use of violence, threats, or fraud or tried to do so, shall be punished by imprisonment for 1 to 5 years and a fine ranging between 200 to 500 dh. However, if the minor who was tricked or kidnapped has reached puberty and married the person who tricked or kidnapped her, then he cannot be pursued through the court, unless someone has the right to ask for banishing this marriage. He shall not be held accountable only after a verdict stating the invalidity of this marriage. If the victim refused to marry him, then her father or guardian has the right to force her.”
After days of campaigns to abolish this code and to adopt Amina’s case not just as an exceptional victim, but as a symbol of a revolution towards laws that highly undervalue women victims instead of protecting them, an official announcement was issued on Friday, March 16, from the Justice and Freedoms Ministry revealing new facts regarding the case.
The announcement claims that the media has given much attention to the incident and some even provided distorted facts. It also confirmed that, “Before the marriage, she, the victim, was in a relationship with the person she married, the result of which was losing her virginity by her own will. This is according to what she stated in her words and confirmed in front of her mother during the preliminary investigation, as well as during her appearance before the judge at the Court of Appeal in Tangiers.”
“The different parties of this case sought some time from the judge to conclude the marriage contract, to which he agreed. The father of Amina provided a request on the subject to rule on marriage at the Primary Court of Larache in September 19, 2011. The Judge called on the girl who confirmed during four sessions her will and desire to marry the man,” the announcement continues.
The ministry also mentioned that legal procedures have been respected in this case and the Public Prosecutor did not pursue the matter further in order to protect the interests of the minor based on her own request and her father’s as well as the request of the person who married her in line with the constraints of law. The Ministry stressed that their investigation into the cause of Amina Filali’s suicide is still ongoing under the supervision of the Public Prosecutor.
Now that we have two versions of Amina’s story with different contradictory facts, where is the voice of Amina in all this? What shall the public believe? Can these new revelations be a way to wrap the story up as if it never happened and overlook the sufferings of the voiceless Aminas across the country? How many Aminas should commit suicide to get attention for their situations? Who is going to give justice to their cases in general and to Amina Filali’s in particular instead of silencing and burying them in the name of “honor”, “shame”, and “culture”? Are we going to witness any change in the judiciary laws that victimize women and deepen their misfortunes?
The statement issued by the minister of Justice and Freedoms, Mr Mustapha Ramid:
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