Female rights associations in Morocco have called for the annulment of a law that acquits a rapist for raping a minor if he marries her, and argued it is like rewarding the rapist for the crime.
Rape is a crime and its perpetrator has to be penalized by law, said Fouzia Assouli, head of the Moroccan Democratic League for Women's Rights. Marriage following rape is an equally serious crime, she added.
"How can a girl be made to marry a man who raped her?" she told AlArabiya.net. "This is like rewarding him for his crime."
Oppressed by law and rape
Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code renders the woman a double victim since she is oppressed by the law and by her rapist, Assouli said.
The rapist usually offers to marry the girl to escape the blame then months later she ends up divorced and even more abused, activist Bushra Abdou said.
"In the case of evading punishment through marriage, the girl loses her rights and the law does not make an example of the culprit to deter others," Abdou told AlArabiya.net
Islamic scholars similarly reject the law, saying making a rape victim marry her rapist is against Islamic laws and contrary to the punishment ordained by God.
"Islamic law was made to protect the five most important things in man's life: religion, life, honor, money, and sanity," Sheikh Ibn Salim Bahsham, member the Moroccan Scholars League, told AlArabiya.net.
"Even if reconciliation takes place between the rapist and the victim, there remains the right of the state to punish crimes that inflict damage on the community," he added.
In the case of evading punishment through marriage, the girl loses her rights and the law does not make an example of the culprit to deter others
Rather be 'divorced' than 'raped'
Zohour al-Zeraei, the national coordinator of listening and legal guidance centers, said the girl is usually forced to consent to the marriage because of society.
"She knows the marriage will not last but she'd rather be called 'divorced' than 'raped,'" she told AlArabiya.net.
Zeraei added that this law also encourages any man who wants to marry a minor who rejects him to rape her to make sure she marries him.
Mustafa Ramid, member of the Advisory Council on Human Rights agreed with the demands of women rights activist and said there is plan to revise the Moroccan penal code, but its details are not yet clear.
"Crimes related to honor cannot be forgiven," he told AlArabiya.net. "This is against Sharia [Islamic law].
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid.)
She knows the marriage will not last but she'd rather be called 'divorced' than 'raped'