Pre-Marital Sex Still Illegal in Morocco

Moktar el-Ghzioui, the editor of Morocco’s daily newspaper Al Ahdath Al-Maghribia, is concerned for his safety after speaking up in support of pre-marital sex. Currently, it is illegal for Moroccans to have sexual relations before marriage and they can be jailed if they are caught, according to the BBC.

Article 490 makes sexual relations outside of marriage illegal based on Islamic law, which reserves sexual relations only for those who are married. Honor and female virginity are often associated and can cause serious repercussions for women who have been sexually abused or just plain active.

The editor of the newspaper told the BBC about his fears for his life after speaking up about the controversial issue saying, “The next thing there was a cleric from Oujda releasing a fatwa that I should die… I am very scared for myself and my family. It’s a real blow to all the modernists who thought Morocco was moving forward.”

The most famous sexual scandal to rock Morocco in recent months was the tragedy surrounding a 16-year-old girl named Amina Filali. She was raped by a man 10 years her senior and when her family took the man to court, the judge declared that she must marry her rapist to recover her family’s honor. The young girl suffered deeply at the hands of her attacker and committed suicide in March.

The story reached headlines around the world and put Morocco in the limelight for cruelty to women and a lack of laws which protect women and their bodies. This month, feminist groups called out Solidary, Women and Family Minister Bassima Hakkaoui for comments that downplayed the severe lack of women’s rights in Morocco.

Hakkaoui called for younger marriage age and said that headlines and associations surrounding women’s rights unfairly damaged the image of Morocco abroad. Feminists in Morocco fired back saying that local women’s issues need to be addressed and should be addressed by the only female in Morocco’s government.

Although women officially have equal political, civil and social rights under the country’s constitution, they continue to face discrimination and rigorous rules regarding their honor. Sexual activity outside of marriage will likely remain a taboo for both men and women. Just recently, an unmarried man and woman were jailed for six weeks after they were caught in the act, the BBC notes.

Women are often heckled on the streets of Morocco, like anywhere else in the world. Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid maintains that loosening the pre-marital sex ban would “promote debauchery.” Although allowing pre-marital sexual relations to occur legally may not have a direct impact on sexual harassment in the street, the two issues feed into a larger cultural understanding of feminine worth, honor and virginity that can put women’s bodies in peril.

Related Stories:

Girl Commits Suicide After Being Forced to Marry Her Rapist

Rape and Underage Marriage Are Not Important, Says Moroccan Women and Family Minister

Is Morocco’s New Justice System Just More of the Same?


Photo Credit: Steve Evans


Mabolsa Ritchie
Gerry Moran4 years ago

This comment of mine appears to have been removed, so I'm re-posting:

@ dotty

Ah dotty. Once again, accusations, insults.I'm only 12. I only play video games. I have no life... anything but answer my questions. I know what racism is. I don't need you do define it for me dotty. What I asked you to do, was to exaplin why it is rascist to oppose islam. You have utterly failed to do so. I also asked you to show me my 'racist' comments. You can't do this either.

Callling those who oppose islam, racists, is just a tool for shutting people up so that you don't have to acutally have an argument for your position. You have proven this. It is NOT racist to oppose islam. Thank you. Now all I need is an admission of this and an apology please.

Past Member 4 years ago

How old are you? 12??? "Running away"? If you don't know what the definition of racism is, I can't really help you nor do I really have any interest doing so. See some people have lives aside from Care2 and video games.

Mabolsa Ritchie
Gerry Moran4 years ago

Hmmm.... it seems that John and dotty have run away so as not to have toface any more questions they don't like and can't answer about their false accusations. Never mind. I'm sure our paths will cross again. I can't wait!! :-)

Mabolsa Ritchie
Gerry Moran4 years ago

@ John W

" have posted 2 definitions of racism which fit him/her and it conveniently ignores them."

You posted nothing of the sort John. You posted a definition from wikipedia, which defined racism as

"discrimination on an ethnic or cultural basis"

and another from psycology today, which 'argued' that

"racism is the belief that culture is inherited"

uhmm... I don't see religion in there, and I don't see islam in there. You just proved yourself wrong. Clever boy! Care to have another go? Mabye you could just make something up yourself this time, like you made up the accusation in the first place?

I challenge you also, to point out my racist comments, and to give me an explanation of why opposing islam specifically, is racist.

Come on now. You and dotty together. Should be a peice of cake!!!

Mabolsa Ritchie
Gerry Moran4 years ago

@ dotty

I think you'll find dotty, that if you look back at your and at John's comments to me, you'll find that both of you were abusive from the start. I just called you stupid because I was abused by you , AND because you are. You continually accuse me of being racist, I have asked you to quote my racist comments and I have asked you to explain how being opposed to a religion makes me racist, and you have not been able to do either. If I had passed racist comments, it would be very easy for you to copy and paste them back to me. If opposing islam was racist, it would be very easy for you to explain that to me. But you can’t because you are wrong and you are simply choosing to abuse me since you have no other course.

You hurled abuse at me in every post, then you act surprised when I call you on it and you try to turn it back on me, accusing me of being the abuser. This says a lot about your character. You abuse me, you make false accusations against me, then can't back them up, which just makes you angrier because I'm spoiling excuse of an argument.


John W.
John W.4 years ago

Hello Sian R. Thank goodness for the voice of reason. To prove debauchery in a Moroccan court there need to be 4 witnesses. The way this is done, in practise, is for the police to bust a door down where they suspect indecency and take the miscreants to the police station nude - if the whole street has seen them naked, this is the proof. Of course, the Moroccan police have far better things to do!

It would be useful to know the circumstances of this case:--

"Just recently, an unmarried man and woman were jailed for six weeks after they were caught in the act"

No one's going to get caught unless they were denounced. Did a jealous wife/husband grass then up? I can't find this case on the web, neither is there a link on the BBC page to the original report.

The law is ignored and no one bats an eyelid. As for the journalist "living in fear", stuff and nonsense.

Sian Rider
Sian R.4 years ago

I came on here (this story) to express my surprise. Aftert all, it's well-known (isn't it?) that there is a town in the Atlas Mountains which is almost exclusively devoted to prostitution.(Sorry guys, I forget its name, you'll just have to google - it begins with an A)

Now if this law was being rigidly enforced you'd expect it to be just one big prison, wouldn't you? Instead, it's famous. And largely used by Moroccan men, too. One of my friends in Marrakech told me he got offered a free session by a woman there who said she'd never gone with a man from the south and she'd like him to teach her what the southern men liked.
This same (unmarried) guy had a regular prostitute in his home town and he didn't keep it a secret from his friends.

I do wish people who posted stories here would use a few research skills first. These days, with google, it's not hard.

John W.
John W.4 years ago

Poor Mabolsa R

I have posted 2 definitions of racism which fit him/her and it conveniently ignores them.

Past Member 4 years ago

Not defending Islam, defending the constitutional right to the freedom of religious expression and defending equality. Insults? Really...another typical poster who calls every one else names, yet when it is suggested that they are a racist, infer that they are being treated poorly???

Again, the box wrapped up in the pretty paper and the big bow on it, it is still crap, no matter how you try to dress it up.

As for you expecting people to be there and spend all of their time on Care 2 (your comment to John). People actually have a life, work, and do other things than spend all of their time posting on Care2. Some actually read a book or actively advocate for something they believe in.

Mabolsa Ritchie
Gerry Moran4 years ago

@ John W cont...

Luckily, dotty has less sense than you and keeps on trying to spout the same lie, in slightly different ways, instead of running away to another thread to harrass more people about being racists. This is proving to be quite entertaining. Don't worry, she'll give up soon and some of your embarrassment will stop. Only some, mind.