Sidi Ifni, Morocco- Following the bitter controversy that rape prosecution avoidance law has caused in Morocco, the Justice and Human Rights Commission of the country’s Parliament has proposed to eliminate a paragraph from the Moroccan penal code. Article 475 permits a rapist to avoid prosecution for rape if he marries the underage victim.
Morocco’s conservative society has traditionally preferred to permit a rapist to marry his victim rather than permit the victim’s family to suffer the dishonor and shame of rape.
The case of Amina Filali, a sixteen year old girl who killed herself by ingesting rat poison after being forced to marry the man who raped her, went viral on social media two years ago, and has spurred women’s rights associations to call on the government to intervene and revoke the rape law, which many think is an infringement of women’s rights.
The proposal to revoke the rape avoidance provision has come as one of the promises of the current Islamist-led government to restore dignity to underage victims of rape.
Amending Article 475 of the penal code gained much international attention after the Filali suicide, and the suicides of other girls who were forced to marry their rapists.
While some wronged families have had no other choice but to agree to a judge’s decision requiring their raped girl to marry her rapist in order to protect the family’s honor, women’s rights activists have deemed forced marriage under the provision a serious threat to girls’ dignity, life, and human rights.
Since 16-year-old Amina al-Filali was married to her 23-year-old rapist and committed suicide in 2012, calls for revocation of the provision have escalated to address the injustice.
According to some Moroccan women, marrying a raped girl to the man who raped her is tantamount to rewarding the rapist, not penalizing him for his heinous crime.
It is now up to the Parliament to vote on the Commission’s proposal to Amend Article 475 and repeal the paragraph once and for all.
Edited by Elisabeth Myers
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