While NGOs have been warning against the increase of domestic violence due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown, the public prosecutor said there was a tenfold decrease in domestic violence prosecutions.
Rabat – Morocco’s public prosecution office is calling for a telephone hotline or digital platform to receive domestic violence complaints amid concerns of an increase in abuse during the COVID-19 lockdown.
On April 30, the office run by Mohamed Abdel Nabaoui announced new instructions to combat violence against women amid the lockdown in a statement.
Between March 20 and April 20, the first month of the lockdown, Moroccan prosecutors registered 892 complaints of physical, sexual, economic, and psychological abuse of women, the prosecution office explained.
The office launched prosecutions for 148 of the complaints while additional cases may go to court pending investigations into the other complaints.
Abdel Nabauoi said 148 prosecutions marked a pronounced drop in prosecutions compared to the average of 1,500 per month under normal conditions.
The public prosecutor called for the activation of existing platforms to receive domestic violence complaints.
Abdel Nabaoui also urged concerned institutions to focus on complaints regarding violence against women, “giving them importance and priority.”
According to the statement, the prosecution chief also asked for more legal measures to tackle special cases, including the provision of special units in public prosecution offices to deal with domestic violence.
The prosecutor also asked prosecutors to keep monitoring the statistics on violence against women.
“I ask you to give them the necessary attention, implement them with due diligence, and notify me of the results of their implementation and the problems that confront you,” Abdel Nabaoui said.
Are women in lockdown afraid to speak up?
A group of NGOS have been highlighting domestic violence in Morocco.
Last week, the Federation of Women’s Rights Leagues (FLDF) said it received 240 phone calls from 230 women who reported incidents of domestic violence from March 16 to April 24.
Psychological abuse caused the highest number of calls, representing 48.2% of the count, followed by economic abuse at 33% and physical violence, which exceeded 12%.
The Masaktach Collective, the Moroccan #MeToo movement meaning “I will not be silent,” also warned against the increase of domestic violence during lockdown.
The collective said its campaign aims to give a voice to women in Morocco “whose responsibilities, mental load, and suffering have been increased.”
The collective called on women affected by domestic violence in lockdown to post their complaints anonymously on the Facebook page of the movement.
“You can also directly post your testimonies through the use of the hashtag #3yalat_El7ajr_Si77i (women of lockdown), which we will publish on our digital platforms,” the collective added.
A report from Morocco’s High Commission for Planning (HCP) in December 2019 found the women most affected by violence are the unemployed and least educated.
The survey found that out of 13.4 million women, aged between 15 and 74, more than 7.6 million had experienced at least one act of violence in the previous 12 months. Conducted over six months, the survey studied the circumstances and consequences of violence against women and girls.