THE suicide of a
16-year-old Moroccan girl who was forced to marry her rapist has provoked
outrage from local human rights groups and across the internet.
According to a Sky News
report, an online petition, a Facebook page and Twitter users all
called for changes to the country's laws after Amina Filali swallowed rat
poison on Saturday to protest against her marriage to the man who
assaulted her a year earlier. Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code
allows for the "kidnapper" of a minor to marry his victim and escape
It has previously been used to justify a traditional
practice of making a rapist marry his victim to restore the honour of the
woman's family. Activist Abadila Maaelaynine tweeted: "Amina, 16, was
triply violated, by her rapist, by tradition and by Article 475 of the
Moroccan law." In Morocco, the law protects public morality but not the
In an interview with an online newspaper, the victim's father said the
girl was accosted on the street and raped when she was 15, but it was two
months before she told her parents.
He said the court pushed the
marriage, even though the perpetrator initially refused. "The prosecutor
advised my daughter to marry, he said, 'Go and make the marriage
contract,'" Lahcen Filali said in the interview on goud.ma.
rapist only consented when faced with prosecution. The penalty for rape is
between five and 10 years in prison, but rises to 10 to 20 in the case of
a minor. Abdelaziz Nouaydi, who runs the Adala Association for legal
reform, said a judge can recommend marriage only in the case of agreement
by the victim and both families.
"It is not something that
happens a great deal - it is very rare," he said, but admitted the family
of the victim sometimes agrees out of fear that she will not be able to
find a husband if it is known she was raped.
Filali said Amina
complained to her mother that her husband was beating her repeatedly
during the five months of marriage, but that her mother urged her to be
patient. Fouzia Assouli, president of Democratic League for Women's
Rights, said: "In Morocco, the law protects public morality but not the
individual. "We have been asking for years for the cancellation of Article
475 of the penal code which allows the rapist to escape justice."
also said legislation outlawing all forms of violence against women,
including rape within marriage, has been stuck in government since 2006. A
government study last year found that about 25% of Moroccan women have
been sexually assaulted at least once in their lives.