Gender-related issues are a hot topic in Morocco, with activists calling for stronger laws on domestic violence.
Rabat – A recent UN report called for a number of changes to the Moroccan penal code, high among the recommendations is the criminalization of marital rape. Other suggestions included criminalizing sexual harassment, both in public places and on social media, enforcing the laws on violence against women, revising family laws, and repealing provisions that exonerate offenders if they marry the woman they raped or kidnapped.
“Morocco’s Law on Violence against Women, Law no. 103-13, did not amend the Penal Code provision on rape, which does not list marriage among aggravating circumstances for sentencing rape offenders. In addition, prosecutions are not reported,” says the report.
The document tackled several flaws in the Moroccan penal code that are hindering the country from reaching its gender equality goals. Despite the laws protecting women from discrimination and violence being in line with global standards, Morocco needs to enforce and adapt them for social justice, according to the report.
The report criticized Morocco’s abortion laws. In Morocco, “abortion is legal only where it is necessary to save a woman’s life. Abortion on demand is prohibited by penal codes.”
The study also denounced the effectiveness of Moroccan laws to prevent child marriage. Despite the 2004 Family Code criminalizing the marriage of Moroccan citizens under the age of 18, child marriage is still prevalent, especially in rural areas, the report notes.
The Regional Bureau for Arab States affiliated to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) published the report entitled “Gender Justice & Equality before the law” on Tuesday, December 10.
UNDP prepared the report in collaboration with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and UN Women.
Despite Morocco’s ongoing efforts to promote gender equality and prevent violence and discrimination against women, reports show that these issues remain widespread within Moroccan society.
A recent report from Morocco’s High Commission for Planning (HCP) showed that more than 7.6 million women in Morocco have experienced at least one act of violence in the last 12 months. The figure represents 57% of Morocco’s female population.
Earlier this month, Morocco’s Higher Council of the Ulema (Islamic scholars) responded to the ongoing public debate about abortion‒one of the issues that need legal reform, according to the UN report.
The council affirmed that any amendments to abortion laws in Morocco’s penal code will be based on “ijtihad,” an independent interpretation of religious texts that is up-to-date with present social contexts.
The announcement could be a way to lay the ground for upcoming amendments to the penal code without deviating from religious laws, international human rights lawyer Stephanie Willman Bordat told Morocco World News.