By Zainab Calcuttawala
By Zainab Calcuttawala
Rabat – Human Rights Watch urges Morocco to pass, strengthen law against domestic violence.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) wrote a letter on Monday urging Morocco to pass reforms to criminalize domestic violence and ensure that law enforcement officers investigate domestic violence cases.
A national survey conducted by the Moroccan High Commission for Planning in 2009 found that 62.8% of women aged 18 to 65 had experienced physical, psychological, sexual, and economic violence. Of the sample, only 3 percent of women who had experienced conjugal violence reported it to the authorities.
“Morocco is in an excellent position to pass and implement legislation on domestic violence,” wrote Liesl Gerntholtz, director of the women’s rights division of the watchdog organization, in the letter.
“It has a track record of promoting women’s rights under law, such as through its family law reforms, and has experienced service providers and civil society leaders who can advise on the reforms.”
In September 2015, HRW completed interviews with 20 Moroccan women and girls who had faced domestic violence, as well as women’s rights activists, lawyers and shelters. Rothna Begum, one of the researchers who worked on the project, commented on HRW’s findings:
“Many women and girls enduring domestic violence don’t get the help they need from Moroccan authorities,” Begum said. “Adopting and enforcing a strong domestic violence law would not only help victims, but also help the authorities do their jobs.”
The letter went on to describe points of progress and dysfunctionality in Morocco’s program to protect women and children from domestic violence. For example, although, the ministries for justice and health, along with the Royal Gendarmarie and the General Directorate for National Security promised in 2006 and 2007 to set up cells and units to assist women and children victims in hospitals and police stations, many human rights lawyers and activists told HRW that the facilities were never established or are ineffective.
Gerntholtz recommended three major changes to the 2013 bill 103-13 for the protection of women against domestic violence in the letter. Firstly, the bill should define the government’s role in providing shelter, health and legal services to domestic violence survivors. Secondly, the bill should establish a trust fund or other financial assistance for domestic violence survivors. Finally, it should add provisions on training police staff and monitoring investigation effectiveness.
According to The Advocates for Human Rights, the fate of bill 103-13 remains uncertain since it was tabled in July 2014.