Morocco: Girl Forced to Marry Rapist Commits Suicide

Amina Filali, a 16-year-old, committed suicide after she was forced to marry her rapist. Fouzia Assouli, the president of the Federation of the Democratic League for Women’s Rights, noted they have been trying for years to eliminate Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code, which allows someone who rapes a minor to escape punishment if he marries the victim. Media reports described how Filali was raped last year and, instead of seeing her rapist prosecuted for his crime, she was forced to marry him.  The rape she endured after her marriage was further compounded by physical and emotional violence by her rapist/husband and his family.

Filali’s suicide has elicited attention from around the world on laws that Moroccan feminists have long been fighting to amend. Moroccan women are seen by some as better protected than women in other countries of North Africa due to reforms advanced by King Mohammed VI, and the new Moroccan Constitution includes provisions on gender equality. Moreover, compared with other countries in the Arab region, Moroccan women have high female political representation. But women in Morocco still live with laws which provide leniency for abusive husbands, do not penalize marital rape, and which criminalize actions to shelter married women. Nearly two-thirds of Moroccan women experience violence in their lifetimes.

In collaboration with Global Rights, The Advocates for Human Rights submitted a shadow report to the Committee Against Torture at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) regarding Morocco’s compliance with the 1987 Convention Against Torture. The shadow report focuses on violence against women. The report found that domestic violence is a widespread problem in Morocco that requires immediate attention. The Government of Morocco has not fulfilled its obligations under the Convention Against Torture to prevent domestic violence, protect victims, and hold perpetrators accountable.

Compiled from: Al Arabiya News, (14 March 2012), BBC News (15 March 2012),  Los Angeles Times World  (14 March 2012), UN Wire (15 March 2012), The Advocates for Human Rights, Archive of Submissions to International Human Rights Mechanisms (20 March 2012).