A Woman Should Not Have to Marry Her Rapist

Some 200 woman activists rallied outside Morocco’s parliament building on Saturday to demand the repeal of a rape-marriage law. Under the law, article 475, a rapist is allowed to marry his victim if she is a minor so he can avoid prosecution. Families often agree to such a marriage because of strong social pressures: An unmarried woman losing her virginity is seen as bringing dishonor to her whole family. Morocco, and Algeria and Tunisia, grant the rapist the opportunity to avoid prison time by marrying their victims.

Last Saturday, 16-year-old Amina Filali killed herself by swallowing rat poison after she was severely beaten in her marriage. Her death has sent “shockwaves” throughout Morocco, says AFP. On Thursday, 300 people had also staged a sit-in at the local court that approved her marriage.

Amina was from Larache near Tangiers, a poor, rural area where it is simply “unacceptable” for a woman to lose her virginity before marriage, says the BBC. Her father, Lahcen al-Filali, told an online newspaper, goud.ma, that when he reported that his daughter had been raped, the local court’s prosecutor advised him to have Amina marry the rapist. Al-Filali told AFP that he was opposed to the union but that his wife had insisted: ”She said we had to do it so people would stop deriding us, to remove the shame.”

Amina’s parents were also present at the rally on Saturday where protesters shouted ”Martyr Amina,” “The Law Killed Me,” and “We Are All Aminas.” A giant banner was displayed that read ”Women’s Dignity. End Sexual Harassment” in Arabic, Amazigh (a Berber language) and French. An independent newspaper Al Sabah expressed the outrage clearly felt by many in an editorial:

“I did not know Amina, but I imagine the colossal number of these ‘Aminas’ who live, or lived, among us.”

“It’s the law, an absurd, grotesque social rule, that tries to remedy an evil — rape — with another even more repugnant one, marrying the rapist. … Whom are we punishing in the end, the victim or her tormentor?

The BBC‘s Nora Fakim said that women feel “let down by the lack of response from the government and are furious at the justice minister” who has not agreed to open an investigation into Amina’s suicide.

Under Moroccan law, convicted rapists can be sentenced to five to 10 years in prison or between 10 and 20 years if the victim is a minor, along with a fine of 200 to 500 dirhams ($24-60). But if the rapist marries his victim, he cannot be prosecuted unless she is able to obtain a divorce, which is highly unlikely as, under Moroccan law, the decision of a judge authorizing such a marriage cannot be reversed.

Amina’s rapist was summoned by police after her suicide and has been released.

Until Article 475 is repealed, we are all Aminas.

Related Care2 Coverage

Girl Commits Suicide After Being Forced to Marry Rapist

Ireland Imprisons Rape Victim For Refusing to Testify

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

Photo by Agnieszka Baranowska

196 comments

June Lacy
June Lacy5 years ago

I can't even imagine the double trauma.....it's mind boggling

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Christina B.
Christina B6 years ago

How awful, when society and illogical traditions make you put your presumed "honor" above your child's well-being! I hope this sick law is soon changed.

@Ann Margaret M.

"Womyn"? "Mother Goddess"? When people resort to distorting spelling so that they don't use the word "men", they can VERY easily become rather ridiculous...

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Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson6 years ago

if id been forced to marry the boy who raped me id have killed myself, hands down. i can't imagine looking into the face of the person who did that to me every day of my life. it's hard enough knowing that because of my cowardice he still walks and dates and hurts women. My heart goes out to women in places where they are seen as property

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LD B.
LD B6 years ago

Is this really all that different from the paleoconservatards here in the US who would consign women to being their childbearing slaves?

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Debbie L.
Debbie Lim6 years ago

This is the most outrageous law I've ever heard of. It definitively should be removed once and for all.

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John Duqesa
Past Member 6 years ago

Patrick F

Thank you. I'm glad you didn't bother considering someone's urgings based on out-of-date knowledge.

Morocco is changing. This is what people won't acknowledge. It will take time. The King is a prime engine of change but needs to tread carefully. Some time ago he insisted on having Elton John, as part of a policy of inclusiveness, for a bash in Marrakech even though religious figures spoke out against this as Elton is married to a man. And I've already spoken about the main drag of every town, including the small city in which I live being virtually a knocking shop at the weekend. Parents rarely throw out pregnant daughters nowadays. They try to get a marriage arranged, but if it won't work, they generally support their offspring. Remember that there are parents in the West who will not countenance teenage pregnancy or sexual relations.

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Patrick F.
Patrick f6 years ago

I base it on the judges decision and the general attitude towards women.

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John Duqesa
Past Member 6 years ago

Patrick F

Just one thing. Do you base your agreement on his 50 year old experiences or something else?

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Patrick F.
Patrick f6 years ago

John D. I agree with Edward in the part where women shouldn't visit Morocco, they are obviously not considered people in the eyes of the law. Men seemingly wouldn't have a problem.

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Ryana Rogers
Ryana Rogers6 years ago

Poor Girl I'm sure sanitary napkin would tell her to make the best out of a bad situation! and that guy from wi who thinks women who are being abused to remember why they loved their abusers in the first place! so sick !

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