Moroccans will be required to register traditional marriages from 2014 when the planned legislation will take effect, in a report issued by the government.
The Ministry of Justice wants to document official statistics on marriage contracts under the new Family Code. The code will be applicable to all Moroccans. There is little information available on how many Moroccans living in remote areas are married due to the cumbersome registration process and bureaucratic delays.
The government unveiled an action plan based on bringing judicial services to remote areas in a bid to provide legal services, especially for the uneducated.
In 2010, in the outskirts of the city of Marrakech, a court proceeding took place in a tent in the village of Tighdoine in the suburbs of El Haouz. Couples were invited to register their marriages. The mobile tent traveled between remote villages to allow couples in far-flung places to get registered.
On the first day of the proceedings, more than 20 couples came to document and certify their marriages for the first time in their lives. In one case, a judge interrogated a woman in her eighties who wanted her marriage with her deceased husband recognized despite his death years ago.
One woman, Nasima, talked to Al Arabiya about the advantages of documenting a legal contract of marriage. “I am here to legalize my marriage for [the sake of] myself and my children,” she said.
This registration drive saw the number of documented marriages reach more than 13,900. Authorities hope they will see similar results elsewhere.
Mohammed Minyani, a judge who conducts the registration in villages, said: “A marriage has to be in the presence of a group of witnesses as it enables them to certify their contracts, which will provide relief from any administrative difficulties they might face.”
Observers in Morocco criticize the slow pace of the judicial system but the ministry of justice hopes the mobile courts will redress their complaints.
(Nadia Idriss Mayen of Al Arabiya can be reached at: Nadia.firstname.lastname@example.org)