Rabat – After years of delay, law 103-13 on the Elimination of Violence Against Women will enter into force this August, criminalizing all forms of gender-based discrimination, including public harassment, sexual assault, and cybercrimes.
The Moroccan parliament released the final draft of the law on February 22, verifying that “The law shall enter into effect after six months of its publication in the Official Gazette.”
This law introduces the new provisions and the amendment of several articles in the penal code.
Perpetrators of sexual harassment in public spaces, which includes the use words, acts, or signals of sexual nature for sexual purposes, will be punished in accordance with Article 503-1-1 of the penal code, or “considered as a perpetrator of sexual harassment crime.”
Subsequently, those accused will receive jail time for one to six months, as well as a fine ranging from MAD 2,000 to 10,000.
Written letters, phone or electronic messages, records, and images of sexual nature for sexual purposes are also covered in the article.
“Such punishment shall be doubled if the perpetrator is a work colleague or one of those in charge of order or security of public places or else.”
The new provisions on cybercrimes will punish suspects who intentionally, “by any means whatsoever,” broadcast or disseminate a combination of false allegations, statements, and pictures that seek to harm an individual’s private life or reputation “without prior approval.” The law stipulates sentences of to one to three years in prison, as well as a fine ranging from ranging 2,000 to 20,000 MAD.
For many years, Moroccan women, human rights activists, and NGOs from across the country have urged the government to adopt a law that would protect women’s rights and criminalize harassment.
Several recent incidents have sparked national attention, including a video of two Moroccan men sexually assaulting a young girl in the street and a similar assault incident filmed on a Casablanca bus in August 2017.
Public protests erupted in major cities throughout the country in the weeks that followed the Casablanca bus incident, with protesters demanding an end to rape culture and the protection of women’s rights to public space and safety.
The full official translation of the law with modified provisions can be found here.