“We Are All Amina Filali”

Fury resounds in the blogs and tweets of feminists online in response to the tragic suicide of a 16-year-old Moroccan girl, Amina Filali, who swallowed rat poison rather than remain married to a man who had raped her. 

Filali, who was raped by the man–10 years her senior–in 2011, was encouraged by the prosecutor of the rape case and the Moroccan government to marry the perpetrator. Her father said that his daughter’s rapist initially refused the marriage contract until faced with the alternative of spending 10 to 20 years in prison. During the five months of their marriage, Filali’s husband physically abused her repeatedly.

Article 475 of the current Moroccan Penal Code includes a provision which allows the “kidnapper” of a minor to marry the victim in order to restore honor to the woman and her family. The government justifies this by insisting that the decision to marry is based entirely on the victim’s consent. In this case, Filali’s consent was suspect, considering her parents’ embarrassment and the stigmatization of rape victims in her culture.

Women’s rights leaders in Morocco say that they’ve long sought more legal protection for women who are domestically abused and sexually harassed or assaulted. Legislative proposals to provide safety for women who face violence, including marital rape, have been “stuck” in government review since 2006. Said Fouzia Assouli, president of the Democratic League for Women’s Rights,

In Morocco, the law protects public morality but not the individual. We have been asking for years for the cancellation of Article 475 … which allows the rapist to escape justice.

There is currently no law in Morocco specific to violence against women. The Human Rights Watch 2012 World Report says that although major reforms have taken place in Morocco regarding the 2004 Family Code, provisions involving inheritance and a husband’s right to “unilaterally repudiate” his wife were left unchanged.

A study released by the UN in 2011– the first of its kind on gendered violence in Morocco–notes that in 2010, approximately 60 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 65 reported having encountered some form of violence, and 1 in 4 of those cases experienced sexual violence. Divorced women in the workforce and unemployed women are most vulnerable to aggression and abuse, the study shows, and it is more common for women with illiterate husbands to experience domestic abuse.

As part of the international outcry against Filali’s tragic death, protests are planned in Morocco for this Saturday, March 17. The Facebook page “We are all Amina Filali” has been created, and a petition on the page calling for an end to Article 475 and justice for victimized women has obtained more than 1,000 signatures. You can add your name as well to speak out against this tragedy.

Photo from Flickr user aloshbennett via Creative Commons 3.0.

Comments

  1. What is the rapist name? Have yet to hear it. Maybe he should get his name published as much as his victim.

    • Ibrahim Haddad says:

      The husband’s name’s Mustapha Fellaq, but not a single media vehicle tells us about his age. New developments of the case show that possibly, the girl was not actually raped, but had consensual sex with the man while she was still a minor (15 y.o.). That’s the case of islamic society honour codes, which are too strict regarding women. This is what really should change, if we are to talk about this seriously and to actually help things change.

      • You might not read very well. Every single article I read said that she was raped when she was 15 by a man who was 10 years her senior. In case you need help with the math: 15 + 10, which makes him 25 years old. Since she died at 16 I’m assuming he is now 26.

  2. tina williams says:

    Tell me what I am reading is a JOKE> FAMILY HONOR???? is worth putting your child!! through shame, mental and emotional pain??? Torment, and put her in a place to be beat, rapped over and over??? Are they stupid? retarted? So for their wonderful family honor, no there child will go to hell for suicide. A word HONOR meant more to you than your child. Your flesh and blood, instead of you standing up for your child, protecting her you handed her over to a criminal………….. You reap what you sew. I hope it ruins your HONOR now, cause in my eyes you have none and deserve none.

  3. It is absolutely disheartening to hear of such suffering. I understand that cultural difference but having control of ones own body is a basic human right.

  4. A wrong is not right because of cultural norm.

  5. If this atrocity does not fill your soul with bitter sorrow and rage you are a sick person.

  6. Some years ago I read (in an Indian newspaper) about a young girl with mental retardation who was forced to marry her rapist. I got into the biggest argument of my marriage over this, my husband, a good, good intelligent person and a feminist, trying to explain that it’s their culture. It’s a culture, alright, a culture of misogyny. And the Moroccan government *insistence* that these marriages are “based entirely on the victim’s concent” PROVE that they know it’s wrong.

    • Dagmar B. says:

      Sometimes I wonder how some people call unjust, often inhuman and unjust things “culture” or “tradition”, and like Prairiesister’s husband not necessarely dumb or bad people. Here in Germany it’s for one forced marriages in the turkish community and things like that. Many people, even judges, police officers who should know better, call such outrages tradition and say “that’s “their” culture”. I must admit that this is making me furious. Any so-called “tradition” which harms living creatures whatsoever has nothing to do with culture or tradition and as for culture, it’s a culture of inhumanity, cruelty and disrespect and needs to be eradicated!

      • If killing men who didn’t help with house work was part of my “culture” I wonder how men would feel ;)

  7. Dagmar B. says:

    A law like this is a perversion in itself and shows all the disrespect and indifference for women and their rights in big parts of the muslim world.

  8. maria elena elverdin says:

    El “avenimiento”, o acuerdo para que la víctima perdone a su victimario y se case con él es una de las formas de violencia mas crueles que permiten algunas legislaciones. Afortunadamente ha sido derogada en Argentina, después de un femicidio ocurrido como consecuencia del matrimonio ocurrido para perdonar al violador…Luchemos para derogar leyes de protección a la “honra” y barbaridades por el estilo que lo único que hacen es perpetuar el patriarcado y la violencia contra las mujeres.

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