Morocco: Enact legal reforms to strengthen punishments for sexual violence & prevent child marriage

28 JANUARY 2014 UPDATE:  Great news! Following nearly two years of sustained public pressure on the government on 22 January 2014 the Moroccan parliament amended Article 475 of the Penal Code - the law that was used to exempt rapists from punishment if they married their victim. It is our hope that such legal reform will help protect girls from suffering the similar fates of 16-year-old Amina Filali, who committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist, and 15-year-old Safae who twice attempted suicide after being pushed into marrying her rapist to save her "honor."

While this is an important step in the right direction, please maintain the campaign's momentum by continuing to call on the Moroccan government to protect girls from child marriage by amending the family law provisions which allow judges to authorize the marriage of minors, and to remove sex discrimination from all its laws. Thank you for your support.

10 DECEMBER UPDATE: After 16-year-old Amina Filali killed herself and 15-year-old Safae twice attempted suicide in 2012 after being forced to marry their rapists, thousands of you supported our call for justice. Amendments were proposed to the Moroccan Penal Code to overturn the law that is used to allow rapists to go free by marrying their victims, and to the family law to prevent judges from being able to authorize the marriage of minors. However, Parliament has still not adopted the amendments and the media is reporting that another girl, from Tetouan in northern Morocco, recently killed herself after being forced to marry her rapist.

Our partner, Spring of Dignity, is organizing a march in Morocco on 14 December 2013, in solidarity with the families of victims of violence and the women and girls who have died due to gender-based violence. The march will draw attention to discrimination against women in the legal system and mobilize public support for a call for a comprehensive law addressing violence against women and girls.

We need your help now to make sure the proposed amendments become law as soon as possible to protect girls like Amina and Safae. Please continue to write to the Moroccan authorities below.

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
Update to Action 41.1 Morocco: End the legal exemption for rapists who marry their victims.

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.

Mr. Mustafa Ramid

Minister of Justice and Liberties

Ms. Bassima Hakkaoui

Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development

Mr. Karim Ghelleb

Speaker of the House of Representatives

To learn more about the campaign & for a list of full contact information for the government officials above, see: