On Saturday hundreds of women activists stormed the streets of Morocco’s capital, Rabat, to protest a government law that absolves rapists from punishment if they marry their victims. The rally ended with a sit-in in front of Parliament.
Protesters held signs demanding the repeal of article 475 of the penal code, which they hold responsible for the suicide of 16-year-old Amina Filali last week. After five months of court-arranged marriage to the man who raped her, during which she was reportedly routinely beaten, Filali drank a fatal dose of rat poison.
Fouzia Assouli, president of the Democratic League for Women’s Rights and one of the protesters, told the BBC, “What we have witnessed is scandalous. We have had enough. We must change this law, we must change the penal code.”
Stephanie William Bordat of the advocacy organization Global Rights tells Women’s eNews that the protests sprung from local “anger,” “frustration” and “impatience” over the ongoing failure of the Moroccan government to protect women against gendered violence. Here is a clip from the Women’s eNews interview:
Local NGOs have long fought for a repeal of article 475 as part of a larger push for a promised comprehensive violence against women law–a law that is now six years overdue. Currently, Morocco has no legal protections for domestic abuse victims. As a result, Bordat tells Women’s eNews, Moroccan women facing domestic abuse often consider suicide as a way out.
It remains to be seen whether the Moroccan government will respond to the mounting local and international pressure.
Videos from Women’s eNews.