Morocco: New Project Underway to Track Court Decisions Related to Women’s Rights

Women’s rights activists in Morocco attended a workshop last week to learn to use a new online database that tracks court decisions related to women’s rights. In addition to court decisions, the website will offer advice for lawyers to litigate cases to promote women's rights, a chat forum, and news. The creation of the website, which has not yet been named, is being funded by the Dutch embassy and led by Global Rights, a nongovernmental organization based in Washington D.C. Stephanie Willman Bordat, Maghreb regional director of Global Rights, said the database is the first of its kind in the Arabic-speaking world and should launch this summer. The Moroccan database was inspired by the Gender Justice Observatory, which monitors court decisions in 52 countries and was created in 2001 by Women's Link Worldwide.

Activists in Morocco applauded the effort emphasizing the need to compile and analyze both positive and negative rulings. Bordat explained that right now only court decisions made by Morocco’s Supreme Court are readily available. Thus, decisions by lower courts across the country are difficult to track and compare. “Negative decisions can go unnoticed, while those that uphold women's rights may be inaccessible to judges and lawyers who could have taken advantage of them” she explained. Zahira Bouchait, president of the Tafoukt Souss Association for Women's Development, based in the southwestern city of Agadir, hoped that highlighting positive rulings in the south may influence court decisions in other regions of Morocco. Overall, activists hope the increased visibility of court decisions will encourage better treatment of women by the justice system and push the Moroccan government to improve laws that undermine women’s rights.

Compiled from: Moroccan Suicide Focuses Legal Trackers on Rape, Women’s eNews (21 March 2012).