Fez - Violence against women has many facets: forced marriages, use of physical and mental harassment, exploitation, humiliation, and discrimination. Gender specific violence has direct, structural and symbolic effects on gender relations in general, and on women in particular.
Fez – Violence against women has many facets: forced marriages, use of physical and mental harassment, exploitation, humiliation, and discrimination. Gender specific violence has direct, structural and symbolic effects on gender relations in general, and on women in particular.
Violence against women is carried out in most cases by persons associated with the family, and it occurs in all social groups. Violence is a weapon used by men for subordinating women. As long as the present system of domination remains, and legal and social inequality continues, both men and the State will feel legitimated to pursue violence against women.
Civil society leaders emphasize that initiatives taken to tackle violence should target young people in a specific way. The construction of gender equality implies precisely fighting violence against women. The violence directed at women is a violence intended to establish or reinforce gender hierarchies and perpetuate inequalities. Violence against women seems to be a cause and a consequence of gender perceptions.
Fighting violence against women is a major concern at the international level. In 1992, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) formally extended the general prohibition on gender-based discrimination to include gender-based violence. It affirmed that violence against women constitutes a violation of universal human rights.
In 2008, Morocco withdrew all its reservations about CEDAW, in a speech made by King Mohammed VI, with the aim to enhance the legal position of women on the basis of the principle of equal opportunity and the application of international declarations ratified by Morocco. This decision may be regarded as an important indication that Morocco is committed to gender equality and to combating violence against women.
Morocco has also ratified other international accords relating to human rights which protect women from violence, inter alia: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; and the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.
At the regional level, Morocco has been a State party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights since 1983. Article 18(3) of the African Charter provides that the States must ensure the eradication of all types of discrimination against women, as well as the protection of women’s rights “as stipulated in international declarations and conventions.”
To consolidate the democratisation process, a reform of the Advisory Council on Human Rights in 2002 contributes to the elimination of gender-based discrimination, and the Council now has eight women out of a total of 41 members. One of the Council’s working groups tackles problems of the family and the situation of women. The Council also deals with all relevant issues and grievances related to human rights. Another advance has been the creation of the Diwan al Madalim, which is an institution that protects human rights, reinforces the rule of law by evening out any injustices that might be committed by the State.
The amended Constitution of Morocco recognizes the primacy of international law to which Morocco adheres over domestic legislation, although such conventions do not have pre-eminence over the Constitution itself without a revision of the latter.
The ex-Ministry for Human Rights had the function of ensuring that domestic legislation was in harmony with the country’s international obligations, including CEDAW. The Convention itself had been published in the Official Bulletin in 2001, and implementation of the Committee’s recommendations and comments on Morocco’s initial report had been accorded great importance in the country.
Considerable endeavours have been made by the State to improve the situation of women in Morocco in recent years. Significant measures to reduce gender inequity within the legal system produced reforms in the country’s criminal code, labour code, and family law in 2004. The latter, also known as the Mudawana, is based on the Malikite school of Islamic law and on internationally recognised human rights; it governs the status of women under civil law. The new family law now fosters the principle of gender equality and substantiates joint responsibility of both spouses for the family. Women’s political representation has also improved. The government includes 6 women Ministers. The adoption of a gender approach in all ministries is a testimony to the commitment of the government to combat discrimination against women, and to improve their representation in politics. As a result of the quota system, Morocco has 67 women members of parliament out of 395 members. On June 12 2009, 3,324 women were elected to local councils throughout the Kingdom of Morocco, representing nearly 12 percent of the total seats under contention. Thanks to an electoral quota system pursued by women’s rights advocates, this percentage dramatically increases the representation of women in elected government.
Under the new labor code, women can start their own business and sign trade agreements without the consent of their husbands. The code stipulates that there shall be no discrimination against women in employment and wages, and considers sexual harassment a serious crime for the first time.
Significant demographic changes have also led to the improvement of women’s health, such as a decrease in fertility rates and a rise in the age of women contracting their first marriage (average 26 years). At the level of education, it is essential to develop equality curricula in which respect for human rights and zero-tolerance violence against women are underlined.
Using all sorts of modern technology (radio, television, internet, cell phones, SMS messages, forums, etc.) to fight violence against women is necessary to sensitize men and women to the dangerous consequences of violence and strategies to prevent it. Feminine non-government associations are to be represented on national councils and government bodies to ensure law enforcement. Enacting national legislation that punishes violence against women is of paramount importance.
Moha Ennaji is the President of the International Institute for Languages and Cultures at Fez, Morocco. Author of Muslim Moroccan Migrants in Europe (Palgrave, 2014).
Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy