Thursday, March 22, 2012

MOROCCO'S ANSWER TO RAPE - MARRY THE RAPIST !!!




Zohra Filali, above, showing a photograph of her 16 year old daughter, Amina, who committed suicide recently in Morocco. This was a young girl, who believed that killing herself was the only way out of a nightmare. A nightmare that started when she was raped as a minor at the age of 15, and continued when she was forced to wed that same rapist, who then abused her for five months following the marriage, until she could stand no more and ended her life by taking a tablet; the purpose of which was to kill rats.

Under article 475 of Moroccan penal code, the perpetrator of rape on a minor may not be prosecuted if he marries the victim. Apparently, the rapist, 10 years her senior, did not want to marry her initially, but was persuaded when he was informed by the prosecution that he could serve between 10 and 20 years in prison, unless he did so.

Amina's mother, who pushed her daughter into this marriage, is reported to have said: "I thought she would have no future, no marriage, but now it would have been better if she had just stayed home," 

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. Fouzia Assouli, president of the Democratic League for Women's Rights said:

  ' 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. 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.

We are no strangers to the horror stories that tell of the absolute humiliation, degradation and violence visited upon women throughout the world, by cultural, societal and penal codes. It is difficult to grasp.... believe that any intelligent,compassionate mind could condone genital mutilation, for example, or stoning a woman, often resulting in death, for committing adultery. Perhaps it could be argued that the adulteress, at the very least, is 'supposed' to have made the decision to have consensual sex outside of marriage, for herself, knowing the full consequences of those actions.

Amina, this most unfortunate 16 year old, did not make the decision to be raped; neither did she make the decision to marry her aggressor. She was bullied into a marriage that killed her, by her misguided mother, a village community, and by article 475 of the Moroccan penal code, which should have been abolished within the Family Code of 2004!

Indeed, the women of Ireland, have had their hopes and dreams squashed by a society, crippled by cultural and religious prejudices. The Magdalene Sisters, a film based on true stories, paints a searingly painful picture of young women, who became pregnant; who were raped; who were, in some cases, considered to be a temptation because of their attractiveness, being thrown into laundries to slave for nuns and in some cases to be further sexually-abused by priests in the name of penance and social justice.


The last laundry did not close until 1994!

However, in a relatively short period, equality for women in Ireland, which HAS to start with a protection from violence, domestic or otherwise, is becoming the 'norm'; well-rooted in legislative support. What about Morocco (and countless other countries) then?

Being fascinated by colours, fabrics, interior design and architecture, Morocco has long been on my 'must visit' list. This tale of sadness and gross injustice caused me to consider my touristic approach; to question what we as Westerners; The Other, looking in on Morocco, or any other place outside our own environmental experience, considers to be exotic. Enraged by this horror story of 2012; my first thought was to cross it off the list, but then I stopped suddenly in my tracks. Of course I want to see Morocco without any pre-conditions; warts and all and have no hankering to see only what the Moroccan government and tourist agencies want me to see, or to stay in the hotel compounds of Marrakesh, Agadir, etc. Furthermore, Moroccans have become dependent upon tourism to feed themselves and their families ! So where does that leave us?

We must sign petition after petition; we must send emails; we must write letters to the Moroccan government in the hope that nothing like this ever happens again.

Throughout history, women have been FEARED by men, and then, as a possible consequence, were ABUSED for their enormous physical, mental and emotional strengths. These qualities were designed as essential elements for the NATURING AND NURTURING of MOTHERHOOD not WAR or TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD. Bodies of thinking, religious and law-making institutions (mostly men) have done their utmost to keep women down. Thankfully, that is beginning to change; quite quickly... quite drastically!

However, I have to make one final point: Amid these rapid changes, we must not forget that this is all 'new' to the 'New Man', who, more than likely, finds himself without the support of a role model. Men are increasingly taking care of the home, as their wives or partners assume the role of breadwinner. Role-reversal and unemployment may be a crucial factor in the rise of suicide figures among young Irish men.

I hope the Moroccan government is feeling the outrage of the outside world at this time, and that it has the courage and the heart to abolish clause 475 of the penal code and to begin the legislative crusade against any violence against women as quickly as possible.

Women AND men should stand together; shoulder to shoulder; heart with heart, to fight against the injustice of violence and discrimination of ALL kinds to ALL peoples.





Ciao for now!

1 comment:

Heaven said...

I feel you deeply in this issue as it is also close to my heart. Unfortunately cultural and religious barriers, coupled with poverty and lack of education for women, continue to hinder the freedom and rights for women. We can only help them if we make our voices louder and stronger.

Thanks for sharing your voice ~