Saturday, March 17, 2012
Angry Moroccans are demanding a change to the country's strict Islamic penal code after a 16-year-old girl killed herself after being forced to marry her rapist
An online petition, a Facebook page and countless tweets expressed horror over the suicide of Amina Filali, who swallowed rat poison in protest at her marriage to the man who raped her a year earlier. Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code allows for the kidnapper of a minor to marry his victim to escape prosecution, and it has been used to justify a traditional practice of making a rapist marry his victim to preserve the honour of the woman's family. The victim's father said that it was the court officials who suggested from the beginning the marriage option when they reported the rape. In Islamic societies, the loss of a woman's virginity outside of wedlock is a huge stain on the honor of the family. In many parts of the Middle East, there is a tradition whereby a rapist can escape prosecution if he marries his victim, thereby restoring her honor. In cases of rape, the burden of proof is often on the victim and if she can't prove she was attacked, a woman risks being prosecuted for debauchery. Legislation outlawing all forms of violence against women, including rape within marriage, has been stuck in the government since 2006.