Activists urge Morocco to scrap rape law

March 15, 2012 at 5:38 PM
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RABAT, Morocco, March 15 (UPI) -- Activists say they are up in arms after the suicide of Amina Filali, a 16-year-old Moroccan girl forced by law to marry her rapist.

An online petition has been started to urge Moroccan lawmakers to do away with Article 475, which allows a rapist to escape jail time by marrying his victim.

In very conservative parts of Morocco, it is highly disgraceful for a woman to lose her virginity before marriage, even if she is raped, the BBC said. The dishonor falls not only on her, but on her family as well. Article 475 is a legal basis for the traditional practice of marrying rapists to their victims in an effort to preserve the honor of the victim's family.

Fouiza Assouli, president of the Democratic League for Women's Rights, says legislation outlawing all forms of violence against women has been held up since 2006.

Assouli told the BBC Article 475 "is an embarrassment to Morocco's international image of modernity and democracy."

"In Morocco, the law protects the public morality but not the individual," Assouli said.

Filali complained to her parents of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband after he had severely beat her, but her family disowned her. She then swallowed rat poison. Her husband was outraged at her suicide attempt, dragging her down the street by her hair. She later died.

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