Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Morocco Rape Victims Will No Longer Be Required to Marry Rapist

Morocco To Change Law That Allowed Rapists To Avoid Punishment By Marrying Their Victims

RABAT, Morocco — Nearly a year after Morocco was shocked by the suicide of a 16-year-old girl who was forced to marry her alleged rapist, the government has announced plans to change the penal code to outlaw the traditional practice.

Women’s rights activists on Tuesday welcomed Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid’s announcement, but said it was only a first step in reforming a penal code that doesn’t do enough to stop violence against women in this North African kingdom.

A paragraph in Article 475 of the penal code allows those convicted of “corruption” or “kidnapping” of a minor to go free if they marry their victim and the practice was encouraged by judges to spare family shame.

Last March, 16-year-old Amina al-Filali poisoned herself to get out of a seven-month-old abusive marriage to a 23-year-old she said had raped her. Her parents and a judge had pushed the marriage to protect the family honor. The incident sparked calls for the law to be changed.

The traditional practice can be found across the Middle East and in places like India and Afghanistan where the loss of a woman’s virginity out of wedlock is a huge stain on the honor of the family or tribe.

While the marriage age is officially 18, judges routinely approve much younger unions in this deeply traditional country of 32 million with high illiteracy and poverty.

“Changing this article is a good thing but it doesn’t meet all of our demands,” said Khadija Ryadi, president of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights. “The penal code has to be totally reformed because it contains many provisions that discriminate against women and doesn’t protect women against violence.”

She singled out in particular outmoded parts of the law that distinguish between “rape resulting in deflowering and just plain rape.” The new article proposed Monday, for instance, gives a 10-year penalty for consensual sex following the corruption of a minor but doubles the sentence if the sex results in “deflowering.”

Fouzia Assouli, president of the Democratic League for Women’s Rights, echoed Ryadi’s concerns, explaining that the code only penalizes violence against women from a moral standpoint “and not because it is just violence.”

“The law doesn’t recognize certain forms of violence against women, such as conjugal rape, while it still penalizes other normal behavior like sex outside of marriage between adults,” she added. Recent government statistics reported that 50 percent of attacks against women occur within conjugal relations.

The change to the penal code has been a long time in coming and follows nearly a year of the Islamist-dominated government balking at reforming the law.

The Justice Ministry at the time argued that al-Filali hadn’t been raped and the sex, which took place when she was 15, had been consensual. The prime minister later argued in front of parliament that the marriage provision in the article was, in any case, rarely used.

“In 550 cases of the corruption of minors between 2009 and 2010, only seven were married under Article 475 of the penal code, the rest were pursued by justice,” Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane said on Dec. 24.

While Morocco updated its family code in 2004, a comprehensive law combating violence against women has been languishing in Parliament for the past eight years.

Social Development Minister Bassima Hakkaoui, the sole female minister in Cabinet, said in September she would try to get the law out of Parliament and passed.


January 23, 2013 Posted by | Crime, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Morocco, Women's Issues | Leave a comment

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

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 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.

March 15, 2012 Posted by | Community, Crime, Cultural, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Morocco, Social Issues, Women's Issues | 8 Comments

Prickly Pear Becomes Cash Crop


The first time I ever saw these prickly pears was in Tunisia, where they were a by-product of huge prickly pear fences that kept roaming sheep, goats, even cattle out of the living areas. The prickly pear fences were everywhere. Some people made jam out of the fruit, but now, the fruit is bringing in big bucks to Moroccans.

To read the entire story, please click BBC News Africa

By Sylvia Smith
BBC News, Sbouya, Morocco

It is just after dawn in the hills above the Moroccan hamlet of Sbouya and a group of women are walking through the thousands of cactus plants dotted about on the hillside, picking ripe fruits whenever they spot the tell-tale red hue.

But these woman are not simply scraping a living out of the soil.

The cactus, previously eaten as a fruit or used for animal feed, is creating a minor economic miracle in the region thanks to new health and cosmetic products being extracted from the ubiquitous plant.

This prickly pocket of the semi-arid south of the country around the town of Sidi Ifni is known as Morocco’s cactus capital.

It is blessed with the right climate for the 45,000 hectares (111,000 acres) of land that is being used to produce prodigious numbers of succulent Barbary figs.

Every local family has its own plot and, with backing from the Ministry of Agriculture, the scheme to transform small scale production into a significant industry industry is under way.

Some 12m dirhams ($1.5m) have been pledged to build a state-of-the-art factory that will help local farmers process the ripe fruits.

The move is expected to help workers keep pace with the requirements of the French cosmetics industry which is using the cactus in increasing numbers of products.

Izana Marzouqi, a 55-year-old member of the Aknari cooperative, says people from the region grew up with the cactus and did not realise its true benefit.

“Demand for cactus products has grown and that it is because the plant is said to help with high blood pressure and cancer. The co-operative I belong to earns a lot of money selling oil from the seeds to make anti-ageing face cream.”

I know I have seen these growing in Kuwait – are they growing in Qatar, too?

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Africa, Beauty, Diet / Weight Loss, Financial Issues, Health Issues, Kuwait, Marketing, Morocco, Qatar | 4 Comments

Moroccan Blogger Jailed

You can read the entire story, which appeared today, on BBC News Africa:

A Moroccan blogger has been jailed for two years for showing disrespect to the monarchy, say the man’s family.

Mohammed Erraji, 29, was convicted after writing an article claiming King Mohammed VI’s charitable habits were encouraging a culture of dependency.

There has been no official comment on the case, but rights groups claim Erraji did not have a fair trial.

A BBC reporter says criticising the king is an offence in Morocco and the royal family remains a taboo subject.

Morocco has previously caused international outrage with its treatment of internet users.

Earlier this year, Fouad Mortada was sentenced to three years in prison for creating a false profile on the internet site Facebook using the identity of the king’s brother.

He received a royal pardon following protests from internet users around the world.

Erraji claimed in an internet article that the king’s charity towards Moroccans was stifling development by encouraging people to be lazy.

“This has made the Moroccans a people without dignity, who live by donations and gifts,” he wrote.
The BBC’s James Copnall in the capital, Rabat, says he was particularly critical of the practice known as grima – giving lucrative licences to run taxis and other transport in exchange for begging letters.
Erraji said this did not happen in developed countries, where hard work rather than begging is rewarded.

He was arrested by the authorities last Friday and accused of “lacking the respect due to the king”.
In court on Monday, he was given a two-year prison sentence and fined 5,000 Dirham ($630:£356).

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Blogging, Character, Community, Cross Cultural, Leadership, Living Conditions, Morocco, Political Issues, Social Issues | | 7 Comments

Three Years to Defeat Al Qaeda

I wish he wouldn’t say things like that. Robert Mueller told  BBC News that he thinks we will see the end of Al Qaeda in three years.

To me, that is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. It’s a dare. I wish he would just go about defeating Al Qaeda in three years, and not talk about it until it’s done. Maybe it is superstitious; I prefer action to talk. When you talk about defeating someone, you might just be setting yourself up to eat humble pie.


The head of the FBI has said he believes the West can achieve victory over al-Qaeda within three-and-a-half years.

Robert Mueller described how his organisation is working closely with British intelligence to confront ever-more-complex plots.

Flanked by broad-shouldered security men with tell-tale bulges beneath their suits, the director of the FBI gave a rare public address in London.

As head of one of 16 US intelligence agencies, Mr Mueller is at the forefront of preventing a repeat of the September 11 attacks.

It was a task, he said, which could not be done without strategic partnerships with allies like Britain.

You can read the entire article HERE.

April 8, 2008 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Communication, Community, Counter-terrorism, Crime, ExPat Life, Morocco, News, Pakistan, Political Issues, Social Issues, Words | 4 Comments

Marrakesh Delight

Forty days ago, the REAL “first Moroccan restaurant” opened in the Alia/Galia Towers in Mahboula, next door to the Starbucks, and across the street from Al Noukhaza, Sakura, CinnaMonster, Ruby Tuesday’s etc.


The entrance is warm and welcoming. The Marrakesh may not be well advertised, but it is certainly not undiscovered, and if you want to get a table, you will want to reserve, or to get there early. It deserves the crowds.

The decor is lush, with large mashrabiyya screens between spacious saltillo-tiled areas. Heavy tablecloths, Moroccan tableware, plush banquettes and attentive service are all side orders to the exquisite main dishes – the tajines – coming out of the kitchen. By 8:30 on a weeknight, almost every table is filled and people are waiting in the entry for seating.

First dining room:


Private dining cabinets:


Couscous Barbarian:

Lamb Tajine with Plums:

We really liked it that they played Moroccan music, that the primary wait staff were Moroccan, and that the food was really, REALLY good. Each starter had an individual and lightly spiced flavor, the couscous was rich and light, and the lamb tajine with plums was tender, sweet and heavenly. The tea was hot and our etched glass cups frequently refilled, and an irresistable plate of sweets arrived just when we thought none of us could eat another bite.

The table waiters were supplemented by kitchen staff delivering the meals hot and covered in the traditional tajines, and there are three separate richly decorated dining areas (one we think is just for men), AND the private cabinets in the back. We intend to go back often – it’s that good.

TELEPHONE: 3715333

Update: When I called for reservations, no one answered. When I went by in person to make reservations, I was told that the management has informed the staff that they have a “no reservations” policy, and you just have to show up and hope to get seated.

January 29, 2008 Posted by | Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Morocco | 22 Comments