Rabat – 53% of physical assault cases and 66% of cases of sexual assault against Moroccan women happen in public places, according to a report released by the National Observatory of Violence against Women.
Basima Hakkaoui, Minister of Solidarity, Family and Social Development commented on the Observatory’s findings on Tuesday, during a workshop held in Rabat, titled “Rabat, a safe city for women.”
The Minister emphasized the impact this phenomenon has on all levels of civil society, from the public sector, to international partnerships and organizations. As for her views on the controversial 103.13 Bill, regarding the fight to end violence against women, Hakaoui expressed her hopes for the approval of the bill.
For Hakkaoui, the bill is a fundamental legal tool to stop female targeted violence. The Minister also underlined the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators as one of the main reasons this issue remains so pervasive.
“The “Safe Cities for Moroccan Women” initiative, implemented in Rabat, Marrakech and 20 other cities, seeks to find efficient approaches and sustainable solutions to make public space in Morocco a safe and secure space,” Leila Rhiwi, Representative of the UN Women’s Maghreb Office said.
She also pointed out that cases of violence against women in urban areas greatly exceeds those in rural areas.
“Violence against women is an international phenomenon, against which the UN is fighting relentlessly through partnerships with public sectors, to put a worldwide stop to the spread of this plague,” Rhiwi added.
Participating in the workshop was Mohammed Sedikki, President of Rabat’s Commune.
For his part, Sedikki affirmed that violence against women in public places is “an outrageous violation of human rights,” expressing his conviction that “achieving the country’s sustainable development objectives requires society’s absolute mobilization for the protection of women rights.”
“Rabat’s Commune engagement, through international cooperation regarding women rights, is a strategic start to ensure women’s safety in Morocco’s capital city,” Sedikki added, affirming Morocco’s firm stand in supporting women’s rights in the framework of a democratic and transparent approach.
The workshop also discussed the urgent need to enable local authorities and law enforcement to intervene in cases of violence against women in public spaces, by granting them clearance to arrest and inspect any suspect.
Talks also asserted that the testimony of the complainant should be taken as credible evidence, thereby indicating proof of a criminal act of violence, barring proof to the contrary.
The workshop finally underlined the important role women play in this fight to stop gender-based violence and the need to allow them a forum in which to suggest solutions to help improve their daily lives as well as their security in public spaces.