The North African country has repealed a controversial law at last. Article 475 of the penal code used to let rapists off scot-free as long as they wed the underage individuals they violated, but thanks to an amendment that passed Wednesday, marriage will no longer represent a loophole for these criminals. In a country where nearly 10 percent of women have been victims of sexual violence, gender equality in Morocco remains elusive despite this momentous step.
Right activists hailed the amendment, while stressing that much more remained to be done to promote gender equality, outlaw child marriage and protect women from violence in the North African country.
“It’s a very important step. But it’s not enough…. We are campaigning for a complete overhaul of the penal code for women,” Fatima Maghnaoui, who heads a group supporting women victims of violence, told the AFP news agency.
Global advocacy group Avaaz said it had handed a petition signed by more than a million people to Morocco’s parliament demanding that the government adopt promised legislation to combat violence against women.
Amnesty International said Wednesday’s amendment was a step in the right direction but “long overdue,” and urged a comprehensive strategy to protect women and girls from violence in Morocco….
While the marriage age is officially 18 in Morocco, judges routinely approve much younger unions in the country.
Activists have called for a complete revamping of the country’s laws dealing with rape. However, in the case to the amendment of the existing article, only the language that stated the allowing of rapists to marry their victims to escape prosecution was deleted.