German article here.
Rape victims no longer forced to marry their aggressors
Houda Lamqaddam fought for this decision for almost two years, but when it finally came, the Moroccan activist no longer felt like celebrating. On Wednesday, 22 January, Morocco’s parliament voted to scrap a highly controversial law that allowed the rapist of an underage girl to avoid punishment if he marries his victim.
Many girls have suffered this fate, but the 2012 case of Amina al-Filali shocked the country. Just months after being forced to marry her rapist, the 16-year-old committed suicide. To protect the family’s honour, her family and the judge had put pressure on the girl to agree to the marriage, which was legal under article 475 of the penal code.
Lamqaddam and her fellow activists accordingly named their campaign against this particular law and against sexual violence against women “475” and made a documentary film about Amina al-Filali.
The fight is not over
The young woman, who accepted Deutsche Welle’s 2013 Best Social Activism Award at The Bobs on behalf of the group, welcomed the scrapping of article 475, but added that the Moroccan parliament’s move doesn’t change much in reality. “For female rape victims, it’s still very difficult to find justice,” says Lamqaddam. “The judicial system is heavily biased in favour of men, the attackers, and there is very little support for women who are victims of rape and sexual violence.”
Basically, women have no one to turn to, since families will blame the victim. According to Lamqaddam, there is a lot of victim-blaming going on.
Although the equality of men and women was anchored in Morocco’s constitution in 2011, it hasn’t arrived in people’s daily lives. Women are supposed to be pure and virgins until marriage or they are cast out. It is engrained in the more traditional sectors of Moroccan society as well as other countries, including several in the Arab world: rape is a stigma; no other man will marry a rape victim. For Lamqaddam, this means the struggle is not yet over.