Amina Filali a 15-year-old Moroccan girl was raped. Instead of her rapist facing the justice we in the West would expect, the young woman was forced to marry him.
Under Article 475 of Moroccan law a rapist can escape prosecution by such a marriage. Technically the law enables the "kidnapper" of a minor to marry his victim and escape prosecution. This law has traditionally been used to force a rapist into marriage, thereby restoring the family name and honour.
Amina was raped on the street but did not tell her family for two months. She must have gone through a personal and private Hell. The girl's father claims that the marriage was pushed by the court as according to Mr Filali, "The prosecutor advised my daughter to marry, he said, 'Go and make the marriage contract.'" The rapist was not keen to marry either but faced a possible 10 - 20 year jail term if convicted for the rape of a minor. Suffice to say he gave in as did Mr Filali, after pressure from the Court.
On Saturday, March 10, 2012 16-year-old Amina killed herself. She did this by swallowing rat poison. Married for five months Amina had been repeatedly beaten by her husband. Complaints to her mother by Amina simply led to advice being given to be patient. In the end the poor young woman must have felt death was her only way out. Some believe her suicide was by way of a protest at her marriage.
Officials in Morocco have claimed that such marriages only usually happen when both parties consent. That plainly was not the case here though.
Activists and human rights groups are incensed by this case. There is an online petition, plus Twitter and Facebook campaigns demanding that Article 475 is abolished. This outdated law clearly has no place in today's society. Worryingly statistics show that 25% of Moroccan women have been sexualy assaulted at least once.
The petition entitled "On behalf of Amina: for the repeal of section 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code" says:
Amina Filali, aged 16, has committed suicide on Saturday March 10th. She was raped at age 15 and pressed charges against her rapist. The prosecutor, the judge and her family forced her to marry the rapist instead of pursuing him, so that her honour would be safe and the rapist would find judicial immunity. The decision is based on a disposition in the article 475 in the Penal code. We demand the abrogation of this article and wish to get concrete measures and dispositions to prevent such a crime. We condemn this highly anti-Islamic article as well as going against every disposition in International Conventions in regard to women rights and signed by Morocco. Please help us change the future for Moroccan women, give a voice to those who can't speak and not let the death of Amina and the plight of thousands of others be in vain!
Think how many others may be or have been forced into such a terrible existence. You can sign the petition here
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog