By Youssef El Kaidi
By Youssef El Kaidi
Morocco World News
Fez, August 5, 2013
Child molestation is such a traumatic and horrendous crime that inflicts lasting scars on the psychology of the victim and his/her family. Between adults, engaging in sexual intercourse without the consent of the victim or out of manipulation or violence is by all means an inhumane act, let alone if the victim is a minor who is unable to consent. The phenomenon is pervasive worldwide with varying degrees, but penalties for child sexual abuse are different from one country to another. Perhaps Morocco is one of the most lenient and permissive countries when it comes to pedophilia and child molestation laws.
In the United States, capital punishment is permitted against pedophiles in the states of Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas, while in the remaining states the punishment may amount to life imprisonment according to the specific offenses for which the perpetrator has been convicted. In China the death penalty is usually applied. According to the “Law for Protection of Minors in China”, citizens under eighteen (18) are minors and ‘serious’ offenders will be punished by life imprisonment or death penalty with confiscation of property. In Russia, the parliament passed a law in October 2011, to condemn child sexual offenders to chemical castration.
In Morocco, a rapist of 11 children was set free by a royal pardon after only two years of his imprisonment, leaving the victims and their families in a deplorable condition. Following the scandal, many people in Morocco asked the government to drop their citizenship. What may seem striking to many people is that Daniel Galván is not the first pedophile to benefit from such a precious gift after his heinous crime against childhood, but hopefully the last.
According to a report released in 2009 by the anti-pedophilia NGO Hands off My Child, of 166 cases of sex abuse the NGO worked on, the average prison term allegedly ranged from between four and six MONTHS with a fine ranging between MAD 9,000 and MAD 60,000 (USD 1,125 and 7,500). Building on the report, Morocco’s prosecution and sentencing of those involved in the sexual abuse of children is very weak in comparison to other countries, rather very tolerant and encouraging for more pedophilic crimes. The report of the NGO Hands off My Child drew attention to a case very similar to the one of Daniel Galván.
In 2004, the Moroccan police arrested a French National, Earvey Legloinick, and allegedly found him possessing 17,000 photos and 140,000 videos of child pornography. The number of photos and videos attests to the number of victims the criminal had sexually abused, but to his and our astonishment, he was sentenced to only four years imprisonment. Not only this, the four years were reduced to two years in prison, but he didn’t even complete the two years because, like Daniel, he was pardoned and went home in 2006.
Another case took place in 2006 when the police caught a 59- year old French man, Jack-Henri Soumere, having sex with a 16-year old boy. Luckily for him, Soumere was charged only for engaging in homosexual acts instead of having sex with a minor, despite that in article 486 of the Moroccan penal code a16-year old person is considered a minor. Therefore, Soumere was sentenced to a suspended light sentence of two months in prison.
What the Moroccan government should know is that this lenience is usually done at the expense of the dignity of the Moroccan people and its image worldwide. The huge protests on social networks and on the streets and the widespread rejection of the amnesty granted to Daniel show that people can tolerate economic and social hardships, but cannot tolerate humiliation.
After the unprecedented rage caused by the release of the Spanish pedophile and the alarming scandal of Morocco’s justice system as some journalists described it, it’s high time to reconsider the whole system of royal amnesty. It’s also high time to make substantive changes to strengthen Morocco’s legislation, as well as enforcement and protection policies, for child sexual abuse crimes. We are now in need of harsh punitive laws that could put an end to this phenomenon, or at least limit it, and bring back some of our lost dignity.
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