Thursday, January 9, 2014

Forced to marry her rapist — days until the big vote

Dear friends,

16 year-old Amina Filali — raped, beaten and forced to wed her rapist — killed herself because Morocco's penal code allows a rapist to marry his underage victim. After years of struggle to reform the law, the big vote to repeal this shocking provision could happen in days! Let's honour Amina's memory by ensuring her tragedy is never repeated.

16 year-old Amina Filali, raped, beaten and forced to wed her rapist, killed herself — the only way she saw to escape the trap set for her by her rapist and Moroccan law. We've joined Moroccan activists, campaigning for years to repeal this provision, and now victory is within reach. This week, one last vote could make it happen.

Article 475 in Morocco's penal code allows a rapist to avoid prosecution and a long prison sentence by marrying his victim if she is a minor. It's any rape survivor's worst nightmare, and for Amina, it came true. But now, after hundreds of thousands of us helped to push Parliament, a vote to repeal the provision is within our grasp. If it's called, insiders say the repeal is certain to pass. We just need one final push to get it to the table.

Right now, there is almost no news coverage and no pressure on legislators to do the right thing. When our call is 1 million strong, we'll place ads in the newspapers that MPs read and stand with Moroccan activists outside of Parliament with a sea of pink balloons representing the massive global response. Let's honour Amina's memory by ensuring her tragedy is never repeated. Click below to join now:

When Amina was brutally raped, her family reported it to officials in their town of Larache. Instead of prosecuting the rapist, the court allowed him the option of marrying his victim— and Amina's family agreed to the proposal. After her suicide, Avaaz members stood with Amina's heartbroken parents and Moroccan activists to deliver nearly 800.000 voices for reform, making international headlines. The government promised change but nothing happened — until now.

Article 475 isn't the only challenge to women's rights in Morocco, but has become a striking symbol of what's wrong. The government has promised to pass comprehensive legislation to stop violence against women since 2006 and to strike down Article 475, but nothing changed while girls' lives were destroyed.
Finally things are moving in the right direction, with the Justice Committee striking down the most problematic part of the article and passing the bill on to the entire Lower Chamber for a vote — if this issue is called, it's very likely that Morocco will have a new law and Amina will see a kind of justice. This vote is the first crucial step to the real reform that women's groups in Morocco have long fought for. Let's seal the deal on 475 to demand that laws should protect, not trample on women's rights:

From Afghanistan and India to Japan and Kenya, Avaaz members use our collective power to join with people around the globe to fight for women's rights — today, let's stand together for Amina Filali and the legacy of hope that her story must leave. 

With hope and determination,

Dalia, Antonia, Emma, Marie, Rewan, Alex, Ricken and the entire Avaaz team

PS - Many Avaaz campaigns are started by members of our community! Start yours now and win on any issue - local, national or global:  

More information: 

Morocco set to repeal controversial rape section in penal code (Al Jazeera)

Morocco MPs Ask to End Rapist Marriage Law After Teen Suicide (Bloomberg)

Morocco protest against rape-marriage law (BBC)

Morocco mulls tougher line against rape-marriages (Al Jazeera) 

Protesters in Morocco demand reform of rape laws after teen girl's suicide (CNN) 

Global Rights report on violence against women in Morocco

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