Rabat - It took 48 hours for Bassima Hakkaoui, the Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development, to react to the case of sexual assault case on a bus in Casablanca, which sparked the outrage among the Moroccan public.
Rabat – It took 48 hours for Bassima Hakkaoui, the Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development, to react to the case of sexual assault case on a bus in Casablanca, which sparked the outrage among the Moroccan public.
In a post shared on her Facebook page, the minister asks, “How can a minor commit such violence and be very happy? How can a minor joyfully commit a crime as if he’s playing with something?”
Hakkaoui expressed her regret and concern about this crime that she deems “foreign” to our society, lauding the efforts of the local authorities, who immediately arrested the assailants. She told news website Mowatine.com that the sexual assault of the mentally disabled girl in a bus in Casablanca “is a disaster, and we have [taken into account] in the penalties if the victim is disabled or belonging to the relatives of the perpetrator.”
Promising to “keep up” her efforts in establishing public policies protecting children, people with special needs, and women’s rights, the minister stressed the need to set up further protection measures in favor of these social categories.
“I stress that I will continue to work from within the institutions in order to accelerate the inauguration of the law against violence against women, which was approved by the House of Representatives and is expected to be ratified soon in the House of Counselors,” Hakkaoui added.
In a statement to the news website Mowatine.com, the minister clarified that her department “has been working on this text since 2012, and in 2013 it was presented in the Council of Government. That was until 2015.”
The text lay on the desks of the House of Representatives for one year, and gathered dust in the drawers of the House of Counselors. And yet, the minister is “still waiting.” Hakkaoui believes that due to “the absence of such a repressive text, it is natural that such behaviors continue to exist in our society.”
Five years later, she is finally “more than ever determined to have this text adopted, because it will give a positive signal.” The minister believes that “this law would be important in that sanctions would become applicable and criminals would now be punished.”
The law in question is the 103.13 bill, a second draft of which was presented to the parliament in 2013 after a long wait.
At first glance, the bill, submitted by Hakkaoui and supported by the Ministry of Human Rights appears to contain actions that women’s rights activists would approve of. The legislation condemns physical, psychological, and economic violence against women, punishes theft between spouses, sexual harassment, discrimination, and defamation, evokes the institution of care and guidance units, and establishes the fight against violence against women as a government priority.
Several women’s rights organizations were enraptured by the introductory note of the document, in line with their struggle and their references (human rights, gender approach, discriminations, among otheretc.), and then were disappointed when they discovered the provisions presented. For many of them, Hakkaoui’s bill does not suffer from small deficiencies, but fails at its core through “its approach, its vision and its philosophy.”
For Fouzia Assouli, president of the Democratic League for the Rights of Women (LDDF), the document presents a good basis, but is certainly not grounds for a comprehensive bill.
“The preamble of the project, very encouraging, has nothing to do with the proposed measures,” says Assouli.
However, she added that it could be a step in the right direction.
“Apart from its late arrival in relation to the commitments of previous and current governments, it nevertheless has some advantages: it is not limited to domestic violence, as envisaged by Nouzha Skalli and Yasmina Baddou; it raises several issues that affect women every day,” she explains.