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Rape Victim Commits Suicide After Being Forced to Marry Rapist

Aon AOL-Huffpost:

Amina Filali, Morocco Rape Victim, Commits Suicide After Forced Marriage To Rapist
By PAUL SCHEMM

RABAT, Morocco — The case of a 16-year-old girl who killed herself after she was forced to marry her rapist has spurred outrage among Morocco’s internet activists and calls for changes to the country’s laws.

An online petition, a Facebook page and countless tweets expressed horror over the suicide of Amina Filali, who swallowed rat poison on Saturday to protest her marriage to the man who raped her a year earlier.

Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code allows for the “kidnapper” of a minor to marry his victim to escape prosecution, and it has been used to justify a traditional practice of making a rapist marry his victim to preserve the honor of the woman’s family.

“Amina, 16, was triply violated, by her rapist, by tradition and by Article 475 of the Moroccan law,” tweeted activist Abadila Maaelaynine.

Abdelaziz Nouaydi, who runs the Adala Assocation 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 that the family of the victim sometimes agrees out of fear that she won’t be able to find a husband if it is known she was raped.

The marriage is then pushed on the victim by the families to avoid scandal, said Fouzia Assouli, president of Democratic League for Women’s Rights.

“It is unfortunately a recurring phenomenon,” she said.”We have been asking for years for the cancellation of Article 475 of the penal code which allows the rapist to escape justice.”

The victim’s father said in an interview with an online Moroccan newspaper that it was the court officials who suggested from the beginning the marriage option when they reported the rape.

“The prosecutor advised my daughter to marry, he said ‘go and make the marriage contract,'” said Lahcen Filali in an interview that appeared on goud.ma Tuesday night.

In many societies, the loss of a woman’s virginity outside of wedlock is a huge stain of honor on the family.

In many parts of the Middle East, there is a tradition whereby a rapist can escape prosecution if he marries his victim, thereby restoring her honor. There is a similar injunction in the Old Testament’s Book of Deuteronomy

Morocco updated its family code in 2004 in a landmark improvement of the situation of women, but activists say there’s still room for improvement.

In cases of rape, the burden of proof is often on the victim and if she can’t prove she was attacked, a woman risks being prosecuted for debauchery.

“In Morocco, the law protects public morality but not the individual,” said Assouli, adding that legislation outlawing all forms of violence against women, including rape within marriage, has been stuck in the government since 2006.

According to the father’s interview, 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. He 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.

Filali said Amina complained to her mother that her husband was beating her repeatedly during the five months of marriage but that her mother counseled patience.

A Facebook page called “We are all Amina Filali” has been formed and an online petition calling for Morocco to end the practice of marrying rapists and their victims has already gathered more than 1,000 signatures.

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March 15, 2012 - Posted by | Community, Crime, Cultural, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Morocco, Social Issues, Women's Issues

8 Comments »

  1. Oh my goodness this is heart wrenching. I can’t believe there’s a law that allows a rapist to escape justice. Part of me understands why the family would honestly feel marrying her off is the best way to protect her. The other part is thinking how come they didn’t just grab him by his throat and snap his neck off? May God never put any of us in the position of making such a call.

    I think the issue of the burden of proof is a huge one. It has its positives in that no one can just randomly accuse someone they don’t like of rape which is a crime that warrants a HUGE punishment. By the same token, no one rapes in public so how are you going to get witnesses and how are you not going to make the issue your word versus his? The solution I believe is this: 1) Create widespread awareness that rape IS NOT the victim’s fault. 2) Create awareness about what to do directly after a rape (ie do no take a shower immediately, go straight to the hospital, take a pill to prevent pregnancy, etc.) 3) All hospitals should have rape kits available to take any evidence from the victim, hair and bodily excretions, evidence of violence and scarring and all that would show who the rapist was and that it was an act of violence.

    The only reason I know any of this is because I’m Western educated. We do not have this information made available for us in Kuwait whether we’re illiterate or Phd holders. This is wrong.

    Comment by 1001Nights | March 16, 2012 | Reply

  2. p.s. I have a Kuwaiti friend who now never leaves the house without a knife in her bag because she nearly got raped in the parking lot of a renowned hotel.

    Comment by 1001Nights | March 16, 2012 | Reply

  3. Alf Laila, it makes me see red. And while I agree with what you have suggested, I also remember crying when one of my Kuwait friends told me she went to the police, but ultimately did not press charges against the man because then it would go to trial, and “Kuwait is a small country, where everyone knows everything.” She said that for herself, she knew her own innocence, and would gladly press charges, but she has sisters, and once she became known as a rape victim, it would also tarnish her sisters’ chances of marrying. You can understand why we wept together.

    Some things are what they are, and cultural traditions change slowly. It is the same in the USA – things have changed, but rape kits, and educated police and hospital personnel are a relatively new phenomenon – like within the last 50 years.

    And we still have ignoramuses who feel entitled to call a woman a slut . . .

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 16, 2012 | Reply

  4. For many women it’s bad enough getting raped on their wedding night by their lawfully wedded husband let alone getting raped by a non partner. To put the spotlight on marital rape, the U.N needs to come out with a forward charter of some sort even if only for namesake – it will allow most men to recalibrate their thinking around the concept of opening night (if it can be called that!) couplings.
    On gay rape, it would seem almost always that the rapist is a homophobe with few exceptions of gay on gay rapes.
    Naughty (and tempting though it may sound to some) the idea of a woman raping a man is not at all tenable. A woman can rape her subordinate man’s happiness at work but in real terms, physical rape of a man by a woman is a chimera, at best.
    What say?

    Comment by Borderline Homosexual of Low Heterosexual Potential | March 18, 2012 | Reply

  5. Intlxpatr, I’m really sorry about what happened to your friend. I wonder what stage of history this happened? I mean if this happened back in the 1970s or more recently. I think – or I hope – that this most certainly doesn’t apply anymore. I also think – or hope – that most sisters would care a lot more about the capture and punishment of their sibling’s rapist than they would about potentially ruining their chances of marriage. I don’t know.

    But I do know that there are girls nowadays who are of extremely ill reputation and they still get married. And these are not women who are raped, just women who are viewed as debauched. Women who are divorced also get married much more often now than back then too. So linking the rape of one sister to the lack of marriage for the others doesn’t apply anymore in my opinion. The girl who did get raped could suffer tremendously because – without hospital evidence and a rape kit – it’s very difficult to prove that it wasn’t consensual. But the sisters? I just don’t buy it. I can’t blame the victim for her judgement call, that certainly isn’t my place or intention. But I think that men who rape don’t do it only once and I wish that all women would seek justice.

    Comment by 1001Nights | March 18, 2012 | Reply

  6. Borderline – I remember you having strong opinions about marital rape and about women having too many children too quickly, and I remember you seemed to have some medical reasons, related to things you have seen in your work experience/ Am I remembering correctly?

    1001 – I agree with you in principle, that women would be free to seek justice, but in practice, it just isn’t so, in my experience. My friend was raped by a man who had been turned down in his marriage proposal and wanted to force the issue. Her family backed her up, gave her all support, for whatever she chose. They would support her if she prosecuted her attacker, or if she chose not to. Every rape victim has to decide for herself whether the cost of justice is worth the price of her reputation and the whispers behind her back. Few countries truly support the rape victim; and defense counsel can make a saint seem to be promiscuous. Going public takes a LOT of courage and a victim pays a price. Many victims just want it to be over, want to walk away and move on as if it never happened. They, too, pay a price, but it is a good thing that it is their choice, and not a choice forced upon them, like a marriage to a man they abhor.

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 18, 2012 | Reply

  7. Couldn’t agree more.

    It brings to mind another issue though, not about rape but about how women are raised, and not only Arab women, but women in general. I really don’t believe that women are raised to think that courage is a virtue. It is very much a part of manhood but when a woman demands a raise at work or protests politically or demands justice against a crime there seems to be something off-putting about her or so some see it that way. It really bothers me that we’re categorically raised to be insecure. We have to work harder to prove something, we have to raise perfect kids to prove something, we have to look a certain way to prove something. It’s like whatever we do there’s something we have to prove.

    Comment by 1001Nights | March 19, 2012 | Reply

  8. Wow. Wow. You are right. Women are still seen as ‘aggressive’ when they merely seek equal money for equal pay. I still come across men who think men should be paid more – for the same work – because they are supporting a family, when, at least in the United States, a woman may be the head of the household, or supporting a husband who has lost a job. You are right; we are raised to be ‘ladylike,’ and not to raise a fuss, not to attract undue attention to ourselves. We cringe at the words ‘unseemly’ and undermine our own success. No wonder we are sometimes our own worst enemies!

    I have also noticed, both in your country and mine, that many times those who are the most ardent supporters of women and women’s rights are the men – the fathers, the husbands, the brothers, the sons. There are some who truly see who we are and see our potential. It gives me hope sometimes in the midst of despair. 🙂

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 19, 2012 | Reply


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