In Tangier, Morocco, Safae, a 14-year old girl just gave birth to a baby girl. Births are normally events to celebrate, but not this time. Her baby is the product of a rape. Her story begins in January 2011, but she is clearly not the only one, and her case is still ongoing.
Safae was raped and abandoned near her home at the beginning of 2011. Her family has tried to press charges against the man, but the judge pressured Safae to marry him in order to "save her honor." Since then, she has been pressured by the people in her area to marry her rapist, arguing "it will provide a better future for you and your baby." Even though she got married, she is not currently living with her husband, and she suffers from deep depression. She has attempted to commit suicide several times due to the harassment she undergoes from her rapist. This just shows women's rights are completely abandoned in Morocco.
All this happened just two months after Amina Filali's case. For those who don't remember or don't know, Amina had gone through the same situation. She was raped and forced to marry her attacker, from whom she experienced everyday abuse. Her depression and the condition she was driven to, forced her to take her own life by swallowing rat poison.
Article 475 of the Moroccan criminal code states that criminal prosecution will end when the rapist and the victim marry. This means there cannot be criminal charges pressed against a sexual criminal once he marries his victim. So, after going though the traumatic experience of being raped, the victims may have to spend the rest of their lives with the man that did it. Even though marriage is not compulsory, in this case, it seems the law is against women and they are forced or convinced to abide by the law.
It is a concern that in many countries women are are sadly considered a second class citizens. There are thousands of stories of women being driven to harsh circumstances, being bitten, tortured, stoned, and raped. Part of the world is slowly moving forward to end these inequalities but the other part has barely moved. Freedom is a commodity that, in many countries, is only available to few.
What is also worrying about this case, is the fast connections non-Muslims will make about Islam and Morocco's criminal code. It seems since the War on Terror began (and even before), our brains have been twisted and molded by news, speeches and many other forms of [mis]information, into thinking that when something happens in Arab countries it must be because of Islam. This mindset specially targets women's issues and promotes close-mindedness and critical behaviours in non-Muslims.
This law is unquestionably wrong, outrageous, and dangerous to physical and mental well-being of the victims, but it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Islam, instead probably more with a corrupted pseudo-democratic government.
Since Amina's death, a feminist movement in Morocco have been fighting against this unfair and ridiculous law, that provides even more suffering to the victims of rape and their families and an excuse for the attacker to skip prison. Progress is on its way and hopefully one day there will be no more Safaes and Aminas to talk about in the news.