Content notice: This piece discusses rape and sexual abuse.
Last year, a 16-year old Moroccan girl committed suicide after a judge ordered her to marry the man who had raped her (previously mentioned on Feminists For Choice). This practice is fairly common in parts of Morocco and attempts to restore honor to the family after the girl and her parents have been shamed by the rape. The marriage between the young girl and the man who raped her was believed to resolve the dishonor and sexual abuse of the girl.
The girl’s parents filed a complaint against the rapist and “won,” as the man said he would marry their daughter. But the girl was further mistreated and abused after she was forced into marriage. The man walked free as Moroccan penal code excuses rapists from punishment if they marry their victims.
According to an article in Yahoo! News: “A paragraph in Article 475 of the penal code allows those convicted of ‘corruption’ or ‘kidnapping’ of a minor to go free if they marry their victim and the practice was encouraged by judges to spare family shame.”
The penal code is a horrible act towards survivors of rape as it further punished the survivor by the constant presence of the rapist in their lives. It also completely excuses the act of sexual abuse and shames the victim, as the victim’s honor is stated as a concern and the victim is believed to “lose” honor if sexually abused.
This penal code will now hopefully be overturned, as the government has declared plans to abandon the customary practice.