Moroccan Women Rally Against Horrible Rape-Marry Law

Illustration for article titled Moroccan Women Rally Against Horrible Rape-Marry Law

Several hundred Moroccan women have rallied outside the country's parliament building to demand the repeal of a law that allows a rapist to marry his female victim if she is under the age of consent (18). The protests come in the wake of 16-year-old Amina Filali's March 10 suicide, the result of an abusive, court-recommended marriage to her rapist.


Said Fouzia Assouli, the president of the Democratic League for Women's Rights,
"What we have witnessed is scandalous. We have had enough. We must change this law, we must change the penal code." The law (article 475), according to the BBC's Nora Fakim, is intended to help preserve a family's honor (rather than a victim's dignity) in the wake of a rape. In poor, rural areas such as Filali's hometown of Larache, it is unacceptable for a woman to lose her virginity before marriage, even in cases of rape, which problem the Moroccan government solved in the most backwards way possible by simply delivering underage women over to their assailants. Though all parties must agree to a marriage, activists say that pressure is exerted on the victim's family to consent in order to avoid a scandal.

Protesters, however, have been so far disheartened by the lack of government response both to the protest and to Filali's death, which makes it seem like there's still an arduous road for young Moroccan women such as Amina Filali to travel before they're regarded as full-fledged, equal citizens and not merely transferable property that can be broken or bartered according the whim of a repressive patriarchy.


Morocco protest against rape-marriage law [BBC]

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Even if you change the law, there will still be social pressure in these situations.

My great-aunt had a friend who grew up in rural Virginia. When she was seventeen, in the early '40's, she was raped by a friend of one of her brothers. She got pregnant. Her parents gave her a "choice"; she could leave the town for the duration of her pregnancy, go to a home for unwed mothers in a strange state, have her child taken away from her, and then go back and pretend nothing ever happened, or she could marry her rapist. The only kind of "choice" Rick Santorum believes in. She married her rapist, and since there was a war going on and he ended up getting shipped off to Europe she just stayed home with her parents. She secretly hoped he would get killed so she could be a respectable widow, and hoped if he didn't she could try and divorce him once she'd earned some money to move away. Millions of decent men were killed, but not the rapist. When he came home he bought a house and her parents kicked her out and made her live with her "husband". He took the money she had earned working while he was away (her brother actually told him she'd hidden some cash under her bed) and she took to locking herself in her daughter's room so he couldn't rape and abuse her. One day she managed to withdraw some money from his bank account (he didn't let her have more than a few dollars cash at a time) and took off in the middle of the night with her daughter and their cat. It would have been much easier changing trains three times without the cat, but she knew that no living thing was safe with this man. She didn't have any money for a divorce, and she knew if she tried to get one he would contest it anyway, so when she moved in with her future second husband she told people they were married for several years while she was still legally married to the rapist. She didn't get a divorce until she was "caught" by someone who had known her before and managed to find a sympathetic lawyer. Being married to a rapist against your will was not grounds for divorce, but "cruelty" was so she went with that. Of course, the rapist found out and tracked her down, publicly threatened her and her boyfriend. He was "glad to be rid of her" but still wanted to make sure everyone knew what an evil whore she was. The whole thing was quite the scandal, and even those who knew how she'd gotten pregnant blamed her and were sympathetic to the rapist. "Living in sin" was way worse than raping someone, apparently. She did end up getting her divorce and remarrying, but the scandal forced her to move yet again. Her family finally "forgave" her some twenty years later; isn't that Christian of them? Her mother even had the nerve to"testify" to the Church (the center of small town life) about her difficult journey to accept her daughter's adultery and try and bring her back to Jesus, and how her wicked daughter wouldn't accept her forgiveness and how even though she "failed" Jesus will give her brownie points for trying.