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Morocco reconsiders rape-marriage law after teenage girl's suicide (Video)

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 19th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

After a 16-year-old girl killed herself by swallowing rat poison to avoid marrying the man who sexually assaulted her, Morocco is rethinking its old legislation. In Morocco, a rapist can marry his victim in order to preserve the honor of the woman's family. Under Moroccan law, rape is punishable by five to 10 years in prison, rising to between 10 and 20 years if the victim is a minor.
 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Moroccan government is now looking to amend the controversial law.

The teenage girl in question, Amina Al Filali in Larache, near the city of Tangiers took her own life after being severely beaten during a forced marriage to her rapist.

Witnesses say her husband became so outraged when she drank the poison he dragged her down the street by her hair, and she died shortly afterward.

The girl's rapist had sought to escape prison by invoking an article of the penal code that he claimed would exonerate him if the rape victim was his wife.

"We can't ignore what happened, one of the things we are looking for is to toughen the sentence for rape," Mustapha el-Khalfi, the Moroccan communications minister says.

"We are also looking to creating a debate on the cultural and social aspects to create a comprehensive reform," said el-Khalfi.

Woman activist Abadila Maaelaynine wrote on the social network site Twitter: "Amina, 16, was triply violated, by her rapist, by tradition, and by Article 475 of the Moroccan law."

An online petition was initiated and protests were planned for Saturday against the law branded by campaigners as an "embarrassment."

Filali's father said that when he reported the rape of his daughter, he was advised of the option to marry by court officials.

"The prosecutor advised my daughter to marry. He said: 'Go and make the marriage contract,'" Lahcen Filali told an online news Web site.

In some societies, including several in the Arab world, the loss of a woman's virginity outside of marriage is considered a dishonor to her family. Arrangements are then often made for rape victims to marry their attackers.

While Morocco has updated its so-called family code in 2004 in a move to improve the situation of women, women activists say there is still room for improvement. Proposed constitutional reforms in Morocco include moves to boost women's rights.

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