Target: Moroccan Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid
Goal: Thank Moroccan government for reforming previously unjust rape laws
In March 2012, a 16-year-old Moroccan girl committed suicide, tragically ingesting poison to escape a marriage she wanted no part of. Amina al-Filali was by most accounts a normal teenage girl with a bright future ahead. However, that all changed when she accused a 23-year-old man of violently raping her. Her family, concerned about their name being tarnished, and a judge not wanting to have to sit through a complicated trial, worked together to force Amina to marry her attacker. They did this because under Moroccan law a rape charge is dropped if the victim and the attacker are wed. Fearing a life of violence and abuse Amina al-Filali took the only route available to her and ended her own life.
Thankfully, tragedies and injustices like this will soon be a thing of the past in Morocco, where lawmakers have recently decided to change that backwards law. The Amina al-Filali incident sparked a massive and passionate outcry amongst the country’s women’s and human rights activists and amongst activists the world over. In response the government is finally beginning to reform and define its laws regarding rape, which were once almost non-existent.
The laws are still confusing, convoluted, and will be in need of much refining and further reform, however, they are most certainly a step in the right direction, offering Moroccan women protection under the law. For girls like Amina, who were the victims of rape, their attackers can no longer escape prosecution by marrying their victim. On the other hand, the penal code has different sentences for those who commit crimes against minors, virgins, and non-virgins. Although this marks the beginning of protection for Morocco’s women it still discriminates against them based on their sexual history, stating that raping a virgin is a more grievous crime than raping someone who has had sex before.
Despite the shortcomings this is still phenomenal progress for Morocco. Approximately 50% of all sexual assaults in the nation happen in spousal relationships and until now women had no legal recourse. These reforms do not yet offer comprehensive protection but they signal that such a time will soon come. Take a moment to sign the petition and congratulate Morocco for working to stamp out sexual assault and violence against women in their nation.
Dear Minister Ramid,
In March of 2012, a young girl in your nation committed suicide; she chose to swallow poison and end her life because she knew it would be preferable to the life of abuse and degradation she would face otherwise. The girl, named Amina al-Filali, had been savagely raped by a man several years her senior. She was going to be forced to marry the man after the attack—the charges would be dropped if she did and her family’s honor would remain intact.
Until recently this was the law of your land. I am grateful to say then, that this will soon be changing. I am quite thankful towards you and the lawmakers and activists of your country for helping to make this change. Women have much more protection now than they did even just a few months ago. Rape charges will now carry a rather severe penalty as well. Though the laws are not perfect yet, they are most certainly a positive step towards protecting your nation’s women.
The old law was backwards and draconian, treating women as chattel, something less than human. However, thanks to your good work, and the work of people across the globe, this is rapidly changing. Moroccan women will soon be protected by the law and be free from lives of abuse. This progress is cause to be happy and I hope that it continues in this manner.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Magharebia via flickr