The UN acknowledges the Moroccan capital’s efforts in improving public security for women and girls.
Rabat – The 5th UN-Women Global Forum on Safe Cities and Public Spaces commenced yesterday in Rabat as part of UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign.
The forum brings together more than 200 leaders and experts from 20 countries under the theme “Integrated action and local and global adaptation of initiatives for safe cities and public spaces empowering women and girls.”
The UN Women Global Forum aims to share information, promote global partnerships, and design action plans for safe cities and public spaces for women and girls.
The city of Rabat, Morocco’s Ministry of National Planning, UN Women, and local authorities organized the forum.
Infrastructure plays an important role in women’s participation in society, according to UN Women’s acting Regional Director for the Arab States, Moez Doraid.
Speaking at the opening of the forum, Doraid said that 50 cities around the world, including Rabat and Marrakech, have taken concrete steps towards improving infrastructure and public security for the benefit of women and girls.
These measures include creating local policies and multisectoral partnerships, as well as enacting and enforcing laws to combat all forms of violence against women.
Morocco’s Minister of National Planning, Nouzha Bouchareb, stressed that the partnership between her department and UN Women is part of a proactive approach to resolving issues linked between cities and gender.
Morocco’s Minister of Solidarity, Jamila El Moussali, maintained that collective commitment between state, regional, and local actors is the only way to prevent sexual harassment and other forms of violence and discrimination against women in public spaces.
Morocco’s government passed Law 103-13 criminalizing all forms of harassment and violence against women. The law came into effect in September 2019.
A recent UN and Promundo report found that 63% of women in Morocco had experienced some type of sexual harassment, while 53% of men admitted to perpetrating such acts, including unwanted touching, catcalling, and stalking or following.
“Almost 60 percent of those who had ever sexually harassed a woman or girl said they did it for fun or excitement; around a fifth cited a desire to show off to their peers,” the study explains.
“Nearly three-quarters of male respondents maintained that a woman’s ‘provocative’ dress, and for some, her presence in public places at night, are legitimate reasons for harassment.”
The study also notes that 78% of women believe other women who dress provocatively deserve to be harassed, and 42% of women think other women like the attention that comes with harassment.
While Moroccan society still has a long way to go in terms of curtailing harassment, the government’s embrace of open dialogue about the reality of verbal and physical violence against women in public spaces through the UN Women Global Forum and anti-harassment laws offers a glimmer of hope that change may be on the horizon.