Forced to marry the man who had raped her, a 16-year-old Moroccan girl committed suicide last month. She had been raped by another minor in the northern port city of Tetouan. As Abdel Ali El-Allawi, director of the local chapter of an international NGO, the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH), said to Al Jazeera, the rapist was first put into prison but that his family “entered negotiations with the family of the victim” and proposed that their son marry the teenager; her family assented.
Under Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code, rapists who marry their victims can be exonerated from their crime. He cannot be prosecuted unless the woman is able to obtain a divorce, a situation that is highly unlikely as, under Moroccan law, the decision of a judge authorizing such a marriage cannot be reversed.
Pressure to repeal the law rose last year after the suicide of 16-year-old Amina Filali, who killed herself with rat poison after she had been forced to marry her rapist who was ten years older than her. She had also been regularly beaten by her husband and mistreated by his family, whom she lived with after being married. After her suicide, her rapist was summoned by the police and then released.
Khadija Riyadi, president of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, explains that a woman who loses her virginity is considered unmarriageable and guilty of dishonoring her family, even if she was raped.
Last year, women’s rights groups like Mouvement Alternatif pour les Libertés Individuelles (MALI) and women’s rights activists demonstrated and demanded that Article 475 be repealed. The calls to do so spread beyond Morocco, with a Twitter hashtag #RIPAmina calling for Article 475 to be eliminated.