Moroccan Girl Forced to Marry Her Rapist Renews Urgency for Legal Reform | Freedom House

Moroccan Girl Forced to Marry Her Rapist Renews Urgency for Legal Reform

A 14-year-old Moroccan girl who was forced to marry the man who raped and impregnated her is now gripped by a deep depression and has made several attempts at committing suicide, according to Spanish news agency EFE.  Under article 475, a deeply controversial provision of Morocco’s penal code, a man who has sex with an underage girl--a criminal offense--can escape prosecution by marrying her, and some judges apply the rule even in cases of rape.  

Freedom House denounces this law, which is an intolerable violation of the rights of female victims of violence, and calls on the Moroccan government to repeal the provision and enact meaningful legal reforms of its criminal and family code.

The girl, who lives in the northern city of Tangiers and is called Safae, was kidnapped, raped, and abandoned by her attacker in January 2011.  The family filed a complaint, but the girl’s mother claims she was pressured by her lawyer and the family court judge to allow the rapist to marry her daughter to “save his honor.”  Safae has since given birth to a girl.

Morocco’s article 475 drew international condemnation and sparked protests in the capital city of Rabat in April 2012 following the suicide of Amina Filali, a 16-year-old girl who was subjected to repeated physical abuse after being forced to marry her rapist.  While Morocco has made some relatively significant moves to liberalize its family code over the past decade, including expanding women’s options to seek divorce and raising the minimum legal age for marriage from 15 to 18, major gaps still in the law leave women vulnerable to domestic violence and other abuse.

Morocco is rated Partly Free in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2012 survey.

Learn More:

Freedom in the World 2011: Morocco
Freedom of the Press 2011: Morocco