News Violence

Women’s Rights Groups in Morocco React to Suicide of Teen Forced to Marry Her Rapist

Jessica Mack

Protests have erupted in Morocco following the tragic death of 16-year-old Amina Filali, who was forced to marry her rapist and later committed suicide. Women's rights groups have tried unsuccessfully for years to protect victims of physical and sexual violence. They're hoping Amina's death won't be in vain. 

Under article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code, a rapist may be exonerated if he marries his victim, thereby “legitimizing” the crime. This is the horrible fate which befell 16-year-old Amina Filali. After she endured the sexual violence of rape, and the indignity of having to marry her perpetrator, she continued to endure domestic violence. She allegedly ingested rat poison last week, later falling ill and dying in the city of Larache.

Women’s eNews Managing Editor Juhie Bhatia is in Morocco on an International Reporting Project Fellowship, and captured the below videos of on-the-ground reactions to Amina’s death. They feature advocate Stephanie Willman Bordat, head of Global Rights’ Maghreb Field Office. Since the story of Amina’s abuse and suicide broke, she says “there has been absolutely amazing mobilization by women’s rights NGOs and international NGOs,” online and in the streets. A sit-in in front of Parliament in Rabat was organized for this past weekend:

Global Rights and other groups in Morocco and worldwide are calling for the repeal of article 475, which, Bordat says, the Justice Minister had claimed was already struck from the reformed penal code. The Moroccan Government has been promising a law on violence against women since 2006, Bordat says, with no followthrough. 

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It is infuriating that it takes such a devastating tragedy to catch the world’s attention on this issue, when women’s rights groups have been fighting tooth and nail for adequate protection of abuse victims for years. The best that can come from this is swift and decisive action.

Here Bordat speaks about ongoing work to uncover and document the excruciating state of violence against women across the country:

See Women’s eNews coverage for more information and resources. 

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