Rape tragedy compels Morocco to eliminate loophole in rape law
Teenage girl's suicide prompts amendment to statutory rape law
Justice may have arrived too late for 16-year-old Amina Filali, who committed suicide due to her country's rape laws - but it has spared countless other Moroccan girls from suffering the same fate without recourse. The Moroccan Parliament has voted unanimously to amend the nation's laws regarding statutory rape two years after her death.
Zohra Filali shows a picture of her daughter, Amina Filali who committed suicide after being forced to marry the man who raped her.
Amina Filali, forced by her parents and a judge to marry the man she said had raped her at knife point, swallowed rat poison in March of 2012.
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"On this day, I have a thought for Amina Filali and all women who have been victims of this legislative aberration, and we must honor their memory," Khadija Rouissi, a woman in Parliament said. Praising the decision, she added that "the battle that we won today should continue. We must deal with social issues with courage and also accompany the evolution of values in our society."
Many said the law did not go far enough and that all laws governing rape should mandate heavier sentences. Many Moroccan women are reluctant to report rape at all because sex is illegal outside marriage.
"This changes one paragraph in an article when there are a lot of articles that need to be changed," Stephanie Willman Bordat, a founding partner at Mobilizing for Rights Associates, says. "Article 490 still makes it illegal to have sexual relations outside of marriage, which pressures the minor victims of rape and all rape victims, even adults, not to bring charges."
Ten years ago, Morocco raised the minimum age for marriage to 18 from 15, as well as giving women more rights in divorce and child custody cases. Conservative judges and attitudes have made putting these laws into practice challenging. Many families prefer to marry daughters off rather than let people know that they were raped or that they had lost their virginity.
According to workers for nongovernmental organizations, judicial authorizations for marriage of minors have been granted in about 90 percent of requests.
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