Law Criminalizing Violence against Women Enters into Force in Morocco

As soon as a law criminalizing violence against women has entered into force this week, already three complaints were filed by women claiming to have been harassed.

The law, passed last February, includes a ban on forced marriage, sexual harassment in public places, and tougher penalties for certain forms of violence.

Although it has been criticized for major gaps and flaws that leave women at risk of domestic violence, including a lack of provisions to finance the reforms, the new law is a leap forward for women’s rights in Morocco.

It enters into force at a context where voices are rising to denounce multiple rape cases, notably after the outbreak in the media of the case of young Khadija who claims to have been gang raped for two months, tortured and tattooed against her will.

The law imposes tougher penalties on perpetrators of various types of violence committed both in the private and public spheres, including rape, sexual harassment and domestic abuse.

Along with harassment, there are also measures stipulating punishment for people who try to force someone into a marriage using violence or the threat of violence.

In 2009, a national survey reported that 62.8 percent of women had experienced physical, psychological, sexual or economic abuse.

According to the General Prosecutor’s office, 1,600 cases of rape were heard by Moroccan courts last year, twice as many as previous years.

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