Morocco: Parliamentary Committee Votes to Repeal Provision That Protects Rapists From Prosecution

The Justice and Human Rights Committee of Morocco’s parliament has voted to repeal a provision of the Criminal Code that enables a rapist to escape prosecution by marrying his underage victim. The Committee’s action comes in the wake of the 2012 suicide of 16-year-old Amina Filali after being forced to marry her rapist.  Filali’s death fueled public outcry, media attention and significant advocacy calling for an end to the traditional practice of pressuring a young rape victim to preserve her family’s honor by marrying the man who raped her.

A vote by the full parliament on the committee’s action is pending, but the amendment is expected to pass.  The provision to be repealed states there are no grounds for prosecution against a person who abducted or seduced a minor girl who has reached puberty, if she marries the person who abducted or seduced her (Criminal Code, Article 475, second paragraph). 

A representative of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) called the vote “a victory for advocates of human rights in Morocco,” but cautioned that “the lax implementation of laws and the mentality of the judges” pose continuing obstacles to fully protecting girls’ rights.

For a comprehensive discussion of steps that the Moroccan government needs to take in order to meet its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child to protect girls from sexual abuse and forced marriage, see Prestholdt, Jennifer, Morocco: Human Rights Violations Under Article 475, The Advocates Post (Jan. 13, 2014).

Compiled from: Karam, Souhail, Morocco MPs Ask to End Rapist Marriage Law After Teen Suicide, Bloomberg News (Jan. 9, 2014); After advocacy by women's movement, Morocco makes major reform to rape law, Women’s Learning Partnership (Jan. 9, 2014).