Morocco celebrities back fight for women's rights

AFP , Thursday 4 May 2023

Celebrities in Morocco have launched a social media campaign to highlight violence and discrimination against women, as the North African country mulls reforming its penal code.



"The idea is to get our celebrities to speak out," campaign organiser Sonia Terrab told AFP on Thursday.

"They are loved, listened to and respected by everyone. They now want to use their influence to help change the law."

In videos posted on Instagram, eight celebrities, most of them actors, relate first-hand experiences of rights violations against women, from forced marriage and sexual assault to injustices linked to inheritance.

"When I was 15 an uncle raped me several times. I became pregnant, and my mother took me to a woman who was not a doctor for an abortion," actor Bouchra Hraich says to the camera, recounting the story of a young woman called Fatima.

"After I filed a complaint he got two years in prison. But they let him out after six months. I was totally traumatised and just wanted to die," Hraich says in the post which has garnered more than 150,000 views.

The campaign was launched ahead of a report by the Collective for Equality Legislation (CLE), due for publication on Tuesday.

The coalition of feminist groups seeks the reform of "discriminatory" laws against women, to guarantee, for example, the right to abortion and equality in inheritance matters or guardianship of children after a divorce.

The CLE also recommends outlawing child marriage and decriminalising homosexuality and sexual relations outside marriage.

Abortion, extramarital sex and homosexuality are illegal in Morocco, but the existing legislation is not always applied, often causing friction between conservatives and reformers.

Justice Minister Abdellatif Ouahbi has recently spoken out in favour of greater individual freedoms as the legislative reform was "being finalised", according to local media.

He has come under fire from former premier Abdelilah Benkirane, leader of the Islamist Justice and Development Party, who this week slammed Ouahbi's defence of consensual sexual relations as incitement to "debauchery".

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