One of the chapters emphasizes the need to modify the Moroccan Family Code, which allows parents to request waivers for child marriage.
Moroccan author Moha Ennaji has published a new book, “Child Brides in the Maghreb,” which compiles 10 chapters written by various experts on the subject.
Ennaji told Morocco World News the book seeks to assess the causes and consequences of child marriage in the Maghreb region, as well as how to combat the problem. The writers advocate that meeting sustainable development initiatives, particularly in terms of education, health, the fight against poverty, and gender equality, will help quell the social phenomenon.
Child marriage, widely recognized as a human rights violation, continues to be a problem in the Middle East and North Africa. A UNICEF report estimated in 2018 that the region is home to 40 million child brides and that one in five women in the region are married before age 18.
Moha Ennaji, a professor of cultural and gender studies in Fez, edited the collective work, which was published by the South-North Center for Intercultural Dialogue in Fez. He starts off the book with a chapter arguing that the only way to combat the problem is to encourage female participation in all aspects of society.
The book takes an overall look at why child marriage is still occurring in the Maghreb region and the consequences it has on women and overall family wellbeing.
Several chapters discuss the weaknesses of the Moroccan Family code, known as the Moudawana. The book argues that Moudawana is still poorly understood, especially in rural areas, and still faces resistance. It also assesses the role judges and the legal system play in the fight against child marriage.
Article 20 of the Family Code, in particular, was called into question. Article 20 allows parents to submit a waiver request to judges to allow the marriage or their underage child. One of the authors, Souad Slaoui, emphasized the need to modify Article 20 in order to reduce the rate of child marriage. She said the Family Code must be seriously implemented to ensure change.
The 10th and final chapter, written by Mina Sougrati, again argues that Article 20 of the Moudawana should have been repealed a long time ago. She stresses the urgency of its repeal.
A recent study found that the rates of child marriage in Morocco are increasing, despite attempts to turn the tide. According to the Moroccan High Commission of Planning, the number of waiver requests for minors increased to 41,669 in 2015, compared to 38,331 in 2007. Ninety-nine percent of the requests were for female minors. Among the requests made, notaries accepted 85 percent and rejected 15 percent.