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Amina Filali’s choice: Stay silent, or marry your rapist

Laura Davis

56040347 300x189 Amina Filalis choice: Stay silent, or marry your rapistThe suicide of the 16-year-old Moroccan girl has provoked outrage across social networking sites.

Amina Filali was raped at the age of 15. Instead of observing justice in the form of her attacker being imprisoned, she was forced to marry him.

Having recently returned from a holiday in Morocco, one thing I noticed was the lack of women out in public in the evening. Aside from tourists, we very rarely saw a woman in the street – unless they were homeless and begging.

Meeting a British man who had retired in the country five years ago, we discussed this observation and he informed us that Morocco was in fact renowned for being the fairest of the Muslim countries for women’s rights.

In February 2004, King Muhammad VI introduced reforms to the law which raised the minimum age of marriage for women from fifteen to eighteen. Beforehand men had been allowed to divorce women outside of court – but mutual consent and a court hearing was now required by law.

The wife’s duty of obedience to her husband was also abolished and there could now be prenup-style agreement regarding assets in divorce, so they didn’t automatically belong to the husband. Inheritance and custody of children was no longer a male right and it was mandated that 10 per cent of seats in the lower house of the Moroccan parliament be reserved for women. Though not banning polygamy, it is now massively restricted (it can be approved by a judge under “special circumstances”, as with other laws, including marriage under the age of 18).

Although this long overdue reevaluation of Moroccan law might have gained King Muhammad VI a great deal of respect for attempting to bring equality into the country’s legal system, one law which was left in, however, was Article 475. This allows rapists to marry their victim to escape prosecution.

A woman losing her virginity outside of marriage is often reputed to bring families into dishonour, so the law is said to be enforced to allow a women’s virtue to be restored.

The “special circumstances” in this case forced an underage girl to marry the man who sexually assaulted her. After months in a violent marriage with the man who should have been locked away so he couldn’t repeat such a crime, Amina felt she had no other choice than to take rat poison to end her own life.

An online Moroccan newspaper even reported her father as saying that it was the court officials who suggested marriage.

A government study last year found that about 25 per cent of Moroccan women had been sexually assaulted at least once. That’s up to a quarter of women who would possibly have to make the choice between keeping their attack secret, or reporting the violent crime and risk facing a life married to their rapist.

Despite this Morocco has a reasonably low rate of reported rape in comparison to other countries. In 2009, the UN revealed that there were 3.6 cases of rape reported per 100,000 women. This might indicate that many women are deciding against reporting their attack, as they face dishonour or forced marriage as a result.

Fouzia Assouoli, president of the Democratic league for Women’s Rights said:

“It is unfortunately a recurring phenomenon. We have been asking for years for the cancellation of the penal code which allows the rapist to escape justice.”

Although the introduction of Mudawana (or “family code”) in 2004 may have brought the African country leaps ahead in terms of women’s rights, this tradition still occurs here and in many parts of the Middle East.

Amina Filali was one tragic example of why the law needs to be abolished, but her legacy will draw global attention to the horrific choice women are still being been forced to make.

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  • Musulmana

    I’ll speak with more knowledge than the author of this article. It can be seen in a hadith reported by Tirmidi that a man who commited rape was carried to the prophet muhammed sws and the prophet (sws) ordained that he be stoned. If that law is in Morocco, it cetainly has no basis on the Qu’ran or on any hadith. However, if it should have a religious basis, it certainly would be EITHER CHRISTIAN OR JEWISH since we can read in the Old Testament, in the book Deuteronomy (shared by the Bible and the Torah) chapter 22, verses 28 and 29: “28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.” Source: Biblegateway.com 

  • Man_is_a_creature_of_haste

    Contrary to the shoddy reporting about the matter, article 475 is explicitly intended to deal with cases of abduction involving a minor (under 18) – a crime punishable by 1-5 years imprisonment – where there might exist grounds for marriage as a final solution. For clarity, and beyond the obvious, let’s hypothesis a love-struck 17 and 19 year old couple running away together. Irrespective, by the letter of the law, there’s never any compulsion for marriage in Morocco, whatever the case. In such cases as these, even if a marriage is agreed upon by all parties in court, until vows are actually made, the parents and the minor in question can reject the proposal at anytime; moreover, this is actually a backward reading of the article which rather literally states that in the event that the abductor were married to to the minor, prosecution couldn’t occur until after a divorce was pronounced. Hypothetically, let’s assume the rebellious two from the previous example I gave managed to tie the knot. The article makes absolutely no reference to rape and falls under “Section 4: Abduction and Non-Representation of Minors”.The crime of rape is dealt with under “Section 6: Crimes Against Morality (Moral Turpitude)” and with regards to the rape of a minor the penal code stipulates that indecent acts perpetrated/attempted without violence over a child (under 18), carry from 2-5 years of imprisonment; whilst indecent acts perpetrated/attempted with violence, carry form 10-20 years of imprisonment. Further, if the indecent act against females cause the loss of virginity, the crime will be punished with 20-30 years of imprisonment. (Articles 484 – 486).In Morocco the age of consent is set at 18 (tied to wedlock); however, in “justified cases” the marriageable age can be reduced; what case and age is deemed justifiable is matter of debate (“Politics, Philosophy, Culture”, Michel Foucault). Keeping things in perspective, in parts of Europe the age of consent is as low as 15 (France, Denmark, Sweden, Greece), and in other parts, lower (Germany, 14; Italy, 14; Portugal, 14).Beyond its obvious nature, for a broader understanding of statutory rape, consider another hypothetical case wherein a 17 and 19 year old voluntarily engage in illicit relations. The law would still necessitate that the 19 year old be prosecuted for the corruption of a minor (minimum of 2 years jail time). Alternatively, let’s consider another example wherein an adult party may also be charged with the crime even if they themselves were duped into believing that the minor was of legal age. Does prosecution of the adult alone for their carnal knowledge seem fair?How article 475 might apply in, and strictly to, certain cases of alleged statutory rape would follow an initial investigation into the alleged crime upon which the prosecution might call upon the section 4 article if it were preferable (to all parties) or impossible (lack of evidence) to prosecute under section 6. Article 475 doesn’t exonerate rapists! If article 475 is being exploited, if there’s a misapplication of the law or if there exists a mismanagement of the judicial system then that’s an entirely different matter and the government have pledged a review. Irrespective, Morocco itself ought to sue the global media for defamation.Premarital sex in Morocco is deemed a repugnant act, punishable by law. Nobody upholding their religion would wed a person known to have voluntarily engaged in such activity. A patriarchally chauvinistic element might have society overlook the males part (unjustifiably), but a female is almost always shunned and labelled; faced by this, a self-fulfilling prophecy is very capable of creating its own reality. There are little moral lessons to learn from the West here; family breakdown, premarital sex and the epidemic outbreak of STIs are widely documented.Forcible rape, however, is an entirely different matter and to reiterate, by the letter of the law, no such rapist could ever be exonerated! Above all, there’s absolutely no basis for such a law in Islam. If there exists a social stigma surrounding rape within a society – and there does within every society (“The Truth about Rape”, by Robert, M.d. Golden, Fred, Ph.D. Peterson) – then, by and large, this matter (a phenomena transcending borders and cultures) falls beyond the reach of law. Take the United States for example, the stigma surrounding the topic has resulted in rape being the most under-reported violent crime, with victims often citing embarrassment, shame and victimization for their silence. Likewise in Muslim societies a victim of rape might often be looked upon as the guilty party. Such stigma arises from the belief that a “good Muslim/Christian/Jewish girl/boy would never have found themselves in such a position” or conversely, by the moral decay within a society that leads members of the community to automatically regard everyone else with skepticism. What the reason for its existence, if such a stigma forces genuine rape victims to make inequitable concessions, then clearly much work needs to be done to alleviate social ignorance. However, making fanciful claims about written laws which don’t actually exist or in, with a little less ignorance, blaming the letter and spirit of the law is a complete cop out.Furthermore, the Ministry of Justice have stated that “the deceased held a consensual sexual relationship” prior to their marriage, and God knows best. Whilst the claim is denied by the parents, and I would urge you give the deceased the benefit of the doubt, the Ministry also stated “the prosecution decided not to open a file” (presumably under section 6) according to the wishes of all parties concerned. In light of these statements, it would appear that the Ministry are alleging that this case was one of statutory rape of a consenting minor. The Ministry maintains that “legal procedures have been respected”, the parents claim otherwise (although the mother of the deceased is claimed to have been thee prime advocate for marriage). Until an investigation brings to light the truth of the matter, I recommend you reserve your judgments.The global media hysteria surrounding this case – conveniently filled with Eurocentric bigotry, Islamophobia and anti-Moroccan jargon – is rather quite questionable considering the amount of contradictory reports, disinformation and misconceptions  that it basis itself upon. All in all, it’s thus far been a campaign of deceit, propaganda at it’s finest, and truth of the matter remains to be seen.إن الذين يحبون أن تشيع الفاحشة في الذين آمنوا لهم عذاب أليم في الدنيا والآخرة

  • Man_is_a_creature_of_haste

    Contrary to the shoddy reporting about the matter, article 475 is explicitly intended to deal with cases of abduction involving a minor (under 18) – a crime punishable by 1-5 years imprisonment – where there might exist grounds for marriage as a final solution. For clarity, and beyond the obvious, let’s hypothesis a love-struck 17 and 19 year old couple running away together (which in some countries would already be classified as “statutory rape” or its equivalent). Irrespective, by the letter of the law, there’s never any legal compulsion for marriage in Morocco whatever the case. In such cases as these, even if a marriage is agreed upon by all parties in court, until vows are actually made, the parents and the minor in question can reject the proposal at anytime; moreover, this is actually a backward reading of the article which rather literally states that in the event that the abductor were married to to the minor, prosecution couldn’t occur until after a divorce was pronounced. Hypothetically, let’s assume the rebellious two from the previous example I gave managed to tie the knot. The article makes absolutely no reference to rape and falls under “Section 4: Abduction and Non-Representation of Minors”.The crime of rape is dealt with under “Section 6: Crimes Against Morality (Moral Turpitude)” and with regards to the rape of a minor the penal code stipulates that indecent acts perpetrated/attempted without violence over a child (under 18), carry from 2-5 years of imprisonment; whilst indecent acts perpetrated/attempted with violence, carry form 10-20 years of imprisonment. Further, if the indecent act against females cause the loss of virginity, the crime will be punished with 20-30 years of imprisonment. (Articles 484 – 486).In Morocco the age of consent is set at 18 (tied to wedlock); however, in “justified cases” the marriageable age can be reduced; what case and age is deemed justifiable is matter of debate (“Politics, Philosophy, Culture”, Michel Foucault). Keeping things in perspective, in parts of Europe the age of consent is as low as 15 (France, Denmark, Sweden, Greece), and in other parts, lower (Germany, 14; Italy, 14; Portugal, 14).Beyond its obvious nature, for a broader understanding of statutory rape (and its various legal definitions), consider another hypothetical case wherein a 17 and 19 year old voluntarily engage in illicit relations. The law would still necessitate that the 19 year old be prosecuted for the corruption of a minor (minimum of 2 years jail time). Alternatively, let’s consider another example wherein an adult party may also be charged with the crime even if they themselves were duped into believing that the minor was of legal age. Does prosecution of the adult alone for their carnal knowledge seem fair?How article 475 might apply in, and strictly to, certain cases of alleged statutory rape would follow an initial investigation into the alleged crime upon which the prosecution might call upon the section 4 article if it were preferable (to all parties) or impossible (lack of evidence) to prosecute under section 6.Article 475 doesn’t exonerate rapists! If article 475 is being exploited, if there’s a misapplication of the law or if there exists a mismanagement of the judicial system then that’s an entirely different matter and the government have pledged a review. Irrespective, Morocco itself ought to sue the global media for defamation.Premarital sex in Morocco is deemed a repugnant act, punishable by law. Nobody upholding their religion would wed a person known to have voluntarily engaged in such activity. A patriarchally chauvinistic element might have society overlook the males part (unjustifiably), but a female is almost always shunned and labelled; faced by this, a self-fulfilling prophecy is very capable of creating its own reality. There are little moral lessons to learn from the West here; family breakdown, premarital sex and the epidemic outbreak of STIs are widely documented.Forcible rape, however, is an entirely different matter and to reiterate, by the letter of the law, no such rapist could ever be exonerated! Above all, there’s absolutely no basis for such a law in Islam. If there exists a social stigma surrounding rape within a society – and there does within every society (“The Truth about Rape”, by Robert, M.d. Golden, Fred, Ph.D. Peterson) – then, by and large, this matter (a phenomena transcending borders and cultures) falls beyond the reach of law. Take the United States for example, the stigma surrounding the topic has resulted in rape being the most under-reported violent crime, with victims often citing embarrassment, shame and victimization for their silence. Likewise in Muslim societies a victim of rape might often be looked upon as the guilty party. Such stigma arises from the belief that a “good Muslim/Christian/Jewish girl/boy would never have found themselves in such a position” or conversely, by the moral decay within a society that leads members of the community to automatically regard everyone else with skepticism. What the reason for its existence, if such a stigma forces genuine rape victims to make inequitable concessions, then clearly much work needs to be done to alleviate social ignorance. However, making fanciful claims about written laws which don’t actually exist or in, with a little less ignorance, blaming the letter and spirit of the law is a complete cop out.Furthermore, the Ministry of Justice have stated that “the deceased held a consensual sexual relationship” prior to their marriage, and God knows best. Whilst the claim is denied by the parents, and I would urge you give the deceased the benefit of the doubt, the Ministry also stated “the prosecution decided not to open a file” (presumably under section 6) according to the wishes of all parties concerned. In light of these statements, it would appear that the Ministry are alleging that this case was one of statutory rape of a consenting minor. The Ministry maintains that “legal procedures have been respected”, the parents claim otherwise (although the mother of the deceased is claimed to have been thee prime advocate for marriage). Until an investigation brings to light the truth of the matter, I recommend you reserve your judgments.The global media hysteria surrounding this case – conveniently filled with Eurocentric bigotry, Islamophobia and anti-Moroccan jargon – is rather quite questionable considering the amount of contradictory reports, disinformation and misconceptions  that it basis itself upon. All in all, it’s thus far been a campaign of deceit, propaganda at it’s finest, and truth of the matter remains to be seen.إن الذين يحبون أن تشيع الفاحشة في الذين آمنوا لهم عذاب أليم في الدنيا والآخرة


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