Protect Women’s Rights and Stop Child Marriage in Morocco


Target: Karim Ghelleb, Speaker of the House of Representatives

Goal: Strengthen penalties for sexual violence and prevent judges from authorizing child marriages

Morocco will soon vote to amend a law that would allow rapists to escape punishment by marrying their underage victims and increase the punishment for “corruption” of a minor. A proposed change in family law would also end child marriage: although the legal age for marriage is 18 in Morocco, judges can still authorize marriages of minors. Urge the Minister of Justice to pass the proposed amendments and implement these changes immediately.

Article 475 of Morocco’s Penal Code once allowed a “kidnapper” to be exempt from punishment if his underage victim married him. In 2012, 16-year-old Amina al-Filali killed herself after being forced to marry her rapist. Months later, 15-year-old Safae, who became pregnant after her rape, attempted suicide twice after a judge allegedly urged her to marry her rapist. After public outcry from advocacy groups worldwide, the Moroccan Ministry of Justice and Liberties approved an amendment to the Penal Code that would end this exemption. A separate change in family law would no longer allow a judge to authorize marriages of girls under the age of 18.

Even if these amendments are voted in, Morocco differentiates the rape of a virgin and the rape of a non-virgin, with stiffer penalties for “corruption” or “deflowering.” Approximately half of all rape in Morocco occurs within a marriage. The Penal Code needs urgent reform, and it must begin with the amendments approved by the Ministry of Justice and Liberties.

Soon, the Moroccan Parliament will vote on these amendments. Urge the Speaker of the House of Representatives to pass the proposed amendments and take the first steps toward reform for women’s rights in Morocco.


Dear Mr. Karim Ghelleb,

I congratulate the Ministry of Justice and Liberties for approving enhanced protections for victims of rape in Morocco. Soon, Parliament will vote on the proposed changes to Moroccan Penal Code. It is urgent that the proposed amendments to Morocco’s Penal Code be passed as soon as possible, and that the changes be implemented government-wide immediately.

The proposed amendments to Moroccan law would have helped protect the life of 16-year-old Amina al-Filali, who took her own life after being forced to marry her rapist, and bring  justice for the rape and impregnation of 15-year-old Safae, who attempted suicide twice when a judge pushed her to marry her rapist. Passing these amendments would be an important victory for women’s rights, but I encourage you to support an overhaul of the Penal Code that would remove all gender-based discrimination from Moroccan law.

Changing the culture of Morocco to end gender-based violence and discrimination begins with you. Pass the amendments and revise Morocco’s Penal Code.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Public domain

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