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|8 Dec. 2012 demonstration in Morocco calling “for a Penal Code to protect me from sexual harassment, rape, child marriage, violence against women, discrimination and exploitation, deprivation and marginalization.” ©Spring of Dignity|
Following significant pressure from the Moroccan “Spring of Dignity” coalition, our Moroccan partners and Equality Now members, the Moroccan Ministry of Justice and Liberties has approved amendments to the Penal Code that would strengthen punishments for sexual violence. This summer Parliament should be discussing and voting on these amendments, including making revisions to Article 475 to no longer exempt a “kidnapper” from punishment if his underage victim marries him, and deletion of family law provisions that permit a judge to authorize the marriage of a girl less than 18 years of age. Changes such as these might have protected 16-year-old Amina Filali, who committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist, and 15-year-old Safae who was reported to have been pressured by a prosecutor and judge, in the name of preserving her “honor,” to drop charges and marry her rapist. Moroccan women’s groups are also calling for a full review of the Penal Code to remove all provisions that discriminate against women and to insert provisions that protect women’s rights.
Equality Now calls on the Government of Morocco to: swiftly pass and implement the proposed amendments to the Moroccan Penal Code and the family law; to conduct a comprehensive review of all of Morocco’s laws, in collaboration with civil society organizations; to remove sex-based discrimination; and to train all law enforcement officers, particularly judges, on the revised Penal Code and family law without delay. Equality Now also encourages the government to ensure that girls and women are protected from violence and discrimination and have access to justice, in compliance with its international legal obligations and its own Constitution, when they face abuse. This would help prevent further deaths and violations of girls’ and women’s rights.