Morocco considers amending rape law

The Justice and Human Rights Commission of Morocco's parliament on Jan. 9 announced a proposal to amend Article 475 of the penal code, which allows rapists to avoid charges if they marry their victims. This practice is currently encouraged in countries such as Morocco and India, where the loss of a woman's virginity out of wedlock is said to bring shame upon the family. Article 475, translated from French, reads, "When a minor removed or diverted married her captor, the latter can not be prosecuted on the complaint of persons entitled to apply for annulment of marriage and can not be sentenced until after the cancellation of marriage has been pronounced." The proposal will be put to a vote by Parliament.

The announcement takes place a year after the Moroccan government promised to change the controversial law. Nearly a year before this promise, 16-year-old Amina al-Filali committed suicide after she was forced to marry her alleged rapist. Soon after, protesters in Morocco rallied to call for the reform  of Article 475. In July 2011 Moroccan voters overwhelmingly approved a revised version of the constitution, highlighted by fewer powers reserved for their king. The constitutional revisions were a product of a reform process announced following peaceful demonstrations demanding democratic reforms.

From Jurist, Jan. 10. Used with permission.

Similar anti-woman laws have been at issue in Pakistan and Afghanistan.