The staggering acceptance rate in Moroccan courts indicates that child marriage is still prevalent in the country and can no longer be considered an exception to the norm.
Rabat – Morocco’s Ministry of Justice has announced that 32,000 requests for marriage to underage children were issued in 2019, and that Moroccan courts approved 81% or 25,920 of the requests.
According to the ministry’s data, 98% of the requests came from rural areas.
In a statement to the Moroccan House of Representatives, Minister of Justice Mohamed Ben Abd El-Kader called these figures alarming.
The staggering acceptance rate in Moroccan courts indicates that child marriage is still prevalent in the country and can no longer be considered an exception to the norm, El-Kader argued.
El-Kader acknowledged the decrease in requests for marriage to minors between 2015 and 2018, but emphasized that the problem lies in Morocco’s Family Code, “which requires intervention.”
He added the rights of girls must be restored and that “the state must preserve the child’s right to education.”
In 2004, Morocco moved to curb child marriages by reforming the Family Code and raising the legal age of marriage from 16 to 18. However, the law still allows minors to marry with the permission of a judge.
In 2018, Moroccan courts recorded 33,686 child marriage requests. The figures from 2019 do not represent a significant improvement.
Globally, child marriage decreased by 15% between 2007 and 2017.
However, UNICEF reported in 2018 that, every year around the world, twelve million girls are married before the age of 18. The report pointed out that without increased efforts to reduce the practice, 150 million underage girls will marry by 2030.
Despite various human rights campaigns and statistics detailing the social, psychological, physical, and economic costs associated with child marriage, the practice is a persistent problem in Morocco.