After a month of delay, the awaited law criminalizing public harassment and all forms of violence, including sexual assault, will be put into force on September 12.
The government pledged to begin enforcing the law in August after publishing a final draft of the law six months ago, on February 22.
Sources told Moroccan business news outlets L’Economiste that the law will be implemented in September.
A series of publicized rapes
Moroccan activists and feminists questioned the existence of a law that criminalizes violence against women, especially after the publicization of several rape cases and violent incidents.
The most recent infamous rape case was publicized Friday night, when police arrested three suspects for violence against three women.
Two of the women filed complaints against the suspects, saying that they and a friend were attacked. The two women said that they managed to escape but their friend was kidnapped.
After being rescued, the victim told the police that she was raped.
Another alleged rape of a 17-year old girl also sparked outrage on social media last week.
The victim, named Khadija, told Chouf TV how she was kidnapped and raped for two months. Her alleged rapists also tattooed her body against her will, writing their names on her skin.
Bouchra Abdou, an activist, feminist, and president of Tahadi Center, commented on the law, telling Morocco World News that she did not “really understand what the delay was about.”
She said that the law should have been used in Moroccan courts beginning in August. She added that there is no problem if it is delayed until September as the most “important” thing is that the law will be “finally” put into force.
She added that now is the time for associations and NGOsto put pressure on the government to implement the law in September.
Summary of the law
NGOs and associations have decried the light sentences given to defendants charged with violence, rape, or sexual harassment for many years.
In April, Morocco World News received an unofficial English translation of the law’s text from the international non-profit women’s rights organization, Mobilising for Rights Associates.
The law includes articles dictating the punishment that perpetrators of violence will receive if found guilty.
Those who sexually harass in public spaces, by use of words, acts, or signals of sexual nature for sexual purposes, will face prison sentences ranging from one to six months, as well as a fine ranging from MAD 2,000 to 10,000.
Punishable cybercrimes include broadcasting or disseminating a combination of false allegations, statements, or pictures that seek to harm an individual’s private life or reputation “without prior approval.” Cybercrime perpetrators will face one to three years in prison and a fine ranging from MAD 1,000 to 20,000 if found guilty “by any means whatsoever.”
Commenting on the law after its adoption, Minister of Family, Solidarity, and Equality Bassima Hakkaoui said it “is part of an ongoing process to strengthen democracy and achieve parity, in accordance with the provisions of the constitution aimed at combating all forms of gender-based discrimination.”
The law will also include the establishment of a regional committee for female victims of violence at the level of the judicial district of each court of appeal.
The committee should include a prosecutor or his deputy, investigating judge, social assistance, and a lawyer, in accordance with Article 13 of the law.
The committee’s tasks include: “Ensuring communication and coordination between judicial authorities and other sectors and administrations concerned with issues relating to the support of female victims of violence at the regional level.”
The committee will also define the “constraints” and “obstacles” hampering the “process of support provided for female victims of violence” and suggest “appropriate solutions thereto on a participatory basis and according to the competence of each relevant sector.”