Amina al-Filali poisoned herself 7 months after being forced to marry her alleged rapist to spare her family any shame.
The high-profile suicide of Amina al-Filali, a 16-year-old Moroccan girl who was forced to marry the man who raped her, has prompted the Moroccan government to change the law that allows victims to be forced to marry their attackers to protect their family’s “honor”. The Associated Press reports,
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.
While the legal age of consent in Morocco is officially 18, it is quite routine for judges to approve marriages to much younger girls so as to save families from the perceived shame of sex outside of marriage, whether consensual or not.
Although women’s rights activists have welcomed the announcement made by Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid on Tuesday, they also assert that this is only the first step toward reforming a penal code that does virtually nothing to protect woman from violence in their country. Khadija Ryadi, the president of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights said,
Changing this article is a good thing but it doesn’t meet all of our demands. The penal code has to be totally reformed because it contains many provisions that discriminate against women and doesn’t protect women against violence.
Western culture looks at laws like this in highly traditional countries such as this North African nation, and other Middle Eastern countries including India and Egypt with scorn. The reality however, is that in the US it is not unheard of for a rapist to marry their victim to avoid prosecution. Just recently a 42-year-old teacher from North Carolina made headlines for marrying her 17 year old student after being arrested and charged with statutory rape stemming from a sexual relationship they had when her student was 15.