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Morocco/Western Sahara: Reform rape laws and end discrimination

    Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 11:53

    “We ask for a reform of all sections of the law that are detrimental to women's rights, such as the ones that favour the honour of the family at the expense of women’s dignity.” Khadua Ryadi, President of the Moroccan Assoc of Human Rights

    In March 2012, 16-year-old Amina Filali swallowed rat poison and killed herself after being forced to marry the man she said had raped her. Amina’s tragic story is not uncommon in Morocco: the law explicitly allows rapists to escape prosecution by marrying their victim.

    The public outcry around Amina’s death led prompted initiatives to amend the law. On January 8, 2014, Morocco’s Lower House Justice, Legislation and Human Rights Commission adopted a proposal to remove paragraph 2 of Article 475 of the Penal Code, which allows a rapist to escape prosecution by marrying his victim if she is aged under 18. A crucial vote in the Moroccan Parliament is scheduled for January 22, 2014.

    Genuine progress towards ending violence and discrimination against women in Morocco requires widespread reform of both long held attitudes and legislation.

    Moroccan law falls far short of international human rights standards and fails to adequately protect women from violence or to provide them with effective remedies when violence does occur. Marital rape is not considered a specific offence and consensual sexual relations between unmarried people are criminalized. It is also illegal to hide a married woman “evading the authority to which she is legally subjected”, putting at risk shelters that offer protection for women escaping domestic violence.

    In the aftermath of the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 Morocco adopted a new constitution that guarantees equality between men and women. It’s time to make that a reality.


    Please email the following message (or a more personalized version) to Speaker of the House of Representatives and the presidents of the eight parliamentary groups:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Amnesty International welcomes the vote by the Justice, Legislation and Human Rights Commission of the Kingdom of Morocco’s House of Representatives to repeal the second paragraph of Article 475 of the Penal Code.

    I call on you to ensure the proposal is now swiftly and successfully voted on by the House of Representatives so that perpetrators of rape no longer escape accountability by marrying the girls they’ve attacked. Any further delays will cost young girls their lives.

    I also call for all articles in Morocco’s Penal Code that discriminate against women and survivors of gender-based violence are repealed or amended. These articles include:

    • Article 486 and its definition of rape, which does not reflect international human rights law and standards
    • Article 487 which does not recognize marital rape as a specific offence
    • Article 488 which distinguishes between victims of rape on the basis of whether they were virgins or not
    • Article 490 which criminalizes consensual sexual relations between unmarried consenting adults

    I further urge you to ensure these amendments are adequately implemented in practice, notably by providing adequate and effective gender-sensitive training for law-enforcement officials and judges.

    Yours sincerely,

    Write to:

    Speaker of the House of Representatives of Morocco Karim Ghellab:

    President of Groupe Justice et développement (PJD) Abdellah Bouanou:

    President of Groupe Istiqlalien de l’unité et de l’égalitarisme (Istiqlal) Nourdin Moudian:

    President of Groupe du Rassemblement national des indépendants (RNI) Rachid Talbi el Alami:

    President of Groupe Authenticité et modernité (PAM) Milouda Hazeb:

    President of Groupe de l’Union socialiste des forces populaires (USFP) Ahmed Zaidi:

    President of Groupe du Mouvement Populaire (MP) – Nabil Benlkhiyat Benomar:

    President of Groupe de l’Union constitutionnelle (UC) Belassal Chaoui:

    President of Groupe du Progrès démocratique (PPS) Rachid Roukbane:


    You can also take action via Twitter  

    Send tweets will targeting the Prime Minister’s party, the Groupe Justice et développement (PJD) at @PJDofficiel

    Suggested Tweets:

    As largest party, will @PJDofficiel vote to ensure that #Article475 respects and protects Moroccan women #RIPAmina

    @PJDofficiel must vote to ensure that #Article475 is amended and cases like Amina’s never happen again #RIPAmina

    Find out more: 

    Read Amnesty’s Report Morocco/Western Sahara: Comprehensive reforms to end violence against women long overdue