Outcry at suicide of girl forced to marry her rapist

Moroccans are demanding a change to Islamic criminal law following the suicide of a girl forced to marry her rapist

An online Facebook page and countless tweets have expressed horror over the suicide of a 16 year-old girl who was forced to marry her rapist in Morocco.

Amina Filali swallowed rat poison on Saturday in protest at her marriage to the man who raped her a year earlier.

Angry Moroccan protesters are now demanding a change to the country’s strict Islamic penal code which allows for the kidnapper of a minor to marry his victim to escape prosecution.

Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code has also been used to justify a traditional practice of making a rapist marry his victim to preserve the honour of the woman’s family.

But Abdelaziz Nouaydi, who runs the Adala Association for legal reform, says a judge can recommend marriage only in the case of agreement by the victim and both families.

He says the family of the victim are often forced to agree out of fear that she will never find a husband if it is known that she has been raped.

‘We’ve been asking for years for the cancellation of Article 475 of the penal code which allows the rapist to escape justice,’ says Fouzia Assouli, president of the Democratic League for Women’s Rights.

The victim’s father, Lahcen Filali, claimed it was the court who suggested that marriage was the best way forward when they reported the rape. ‘The prosecutor advised my daughter to go and make the marriage contract.’

‘In Morocco, the law protects public morality but not the individual,’ argues Ms Assouli. Although Morocco updated its family code in 2004, legislation outlawing all forms of violence against women has been stuck in the government since 2006.

A Facebook page called ‘We are all Amina Filali’ has been formed and an online petition to end the practice of marrying rapists and their victims has gathered more than 1,000 signatures.

Ms Filali’s death sheds more light on the way women are treated in Islamic culture. Just last year, 21 year-old Gulnaz was jailed in Afghanistan for ‘adultery by force’ after she was brutally raped by her husband’s cousin.

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