“Women and feminists have struggled for years to improve the situation of women and children in Morocco…4 years with Bassima Hakkaoui as minister and all acquired will be lost,” the petition read.
Rabat – Members of civil society are calling for the Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development, Bassima Hakkaoui, to resign, following her silence on the rape and murder of women in Morocco.
The latest murder to cause shockwaves across Morocco is that of Hanane, a 34-year-old woman who was brutally raped and killed in Mellah, Rabat. Her entire ordeal was captured on film and circulated on social media.
Hanane’s murder is just one of many cases to shock the nation recently. Just this month, on July 11, an 11-year-old boy was raped and killed in Meknes.
Hanane’s case represents a developing face of violence in Morocco, were perpetrators film the incidents to circulate the footage on social media.
The same occurred in the case of Khadija, a 17-year-old in Beni Mellal who was gang-raped and forcibly tattooed, and that of Zeinab, a 23-year-old who was gang-raped on a public bus in 2017. No bystanders intervened.
Hakkaoui, who was elected into her role in 2012 and is the only female minister in Moroccan parliament, did not comment publicly comment on any of these incidents.
Following Hanane’s murder, activists took to the streets of Rabat to protest violence against women. “No to rape, terrorism, and violence,” and “no to hatred and violence” were among the signs raised in front of the Moroccan Parliament on July 19.
Hakkaoui’s silence on this case, as well as the ones that came before, has been deafening for women’s rights activists and members of the civil society. One woman, Houari Meryem, has created a petition calling for the minister’s resignation.
“During her career as a minister, she has only given silence on the issues of rapes, pedophilia, single mothers, forced marriages, deep inequalities between men and women, homeless children,” read the petition.
“Today, we are going backward”
The petition mentions that when she does break her silence on the issues of women, many consider her views archaic.
The last time Bassima publically commented on the rape of a Moroccan woman, it was the case of Amina El Filali, a 16-year-old girl from Larache, Morocco, who committed suicide by ingesting rat poison on March 10, 2012.
El Filali committed suicide because she was forced to marry Mustafa Fellaq, a man ten years older than her who had raped her twice. The marriage meant that he could escape prosecution thanks to Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code, which at the time, de-criminalized rape if the rapist later married their victim.
Commenting on the case to the press, Hakkoui said: “Article 475 of the Penal Code is unlikely to be repealed under pressure from international public opinion. the marriage of the girl to her rapist does not bring her real harm.”
The petition also alleges that Hakkoui said that a rapist marrying his victim is actually “a good solution to spare the victim the rejection of society.” It also says Hakkoui said women are safe from sexual assault as long as they wear the veil and “do not surrender to the eyes of the perverts.”
“Women and feminists have struggled for years to improve the situation of women and children in Morocco. The struggle for schooling, to be able to vote, study and integrate professional life, the struggle to have the right to choose,” the petition continues after listing Hakkaoui’s shortcomings.
“Today we are going backward. We are losing what we have acquired through this policy of silence, by the non-competence of the minister and by wanting to transmit to us and inculcate retrograde values, of which the society of today and the Moroccan woman no longer need.”
“Again, 4 years with Bassima Hakkaoui as minister and all acquired will be lost,” it concludes, echoing the statement of many other activists on social media.