The Moroccan government is currently considering amending a law. This law essentially states that if a rapist marries the rape victim, then they are no longer a rapist. I'm not sure exactly why this is the case. I gather that there is no law prohibiting rape if the two parties are married. But I don't know whether this rule becomes retroactive. Underage marriage is legal with parental consent. What this means is that many parents (read: probably the fathers), once they realize their daughter have become victim of rape, push for marriage as a way for them to save face.
A number of girls, most recently a 16-year old, have committed suicide following their forced marriage to their rapists. This has drawn media attention and scorn from abroad (Europe, not other Arab countries). So maybe the Justice Department will amend the law.
This is just one example of a legal system that systematically turns its back on the rights and safety of women. I would estimate that the majority of female peace corps volunteers here are physically, sexually harassed at some point during their service. Morocco, along with every other Arab country, is consistently rated as among the worst countries on Earth to be a woman.
All of this is sickening, but what's really crazy is that the current situation is actually a dramatic improvement over years past. I just finished a book by a Moroccan woman who grew up in Fez during World War two. She lived in a harem and much of the story is about her growing understanding, as a child, that she lived in a cage. Women were not allowed to leave the home except on special occasions. One of her prison-mates, who lived with her, had been captured as a slave and sold in Fez in the 1930s. At the time, it was the Moroccan nationalists who were pushing for a more modern role for women. The people who were struggling against the French occupation were, at the same time, encouraging girls to go to school for the first time where they would learn, among other things, French. Very Strange.
Morocco has come far in a short period of time, but it has not come far enough. I wish I were allowed to join the protests in Rabat in front of the Parliament as the new law is considered, but as a pcv, I am forbidden from doing so. As I become more aware of the legal and social injustices in this country, I find myself wishing the peace corps had a role as a political organization. But it doesn't.
The views, opinions, and observations expressed in this journal are my own and in no way reflect the views, opinions, or policy of the Peace Corps, Peace Corps Morocco, nor any other governmental or non-governmental organization.
Nor is anything written here necessarily drawn from my own views, opinions, and observations. Please consider all postings and pictures complete fabrications with absolutely no bearing on reality. For legal purposes, please additionally regard the author as utterly imaginary.
The views, opinions, and observations expressed in this journal are my own and in no way reflect the views, opinions, or policy of the Peace Corps, Peace Corps Morocco, governmental or non-governmental organizations.
Nor is anything written here necessarily my own views, opinions, or observations. Please consider all pictures and texts here to be complete fabrications with absolutely no bearing on reality, this one or any other. For legal purposes, please additionally consider the author to be utterly imaginary.