Geneva, 15 July 2003
The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) expresses its concern
regarding violence against women in Morocco at the Twenty-Ninth Session of
the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women will
today begin its examination of Morocco's implementation of the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. In its
alternative country report entitled "Violence against Women in Morocco",
which has been submitted to the Committee, the World Organisation Against
Torture (OMCT) expresses its grave concern at reports of widespread
violence against women in the private and community spheres.
Discrimination against women persists in Morocco in both de jure and de
facto forms. The government of Morocco has registered numerous reservations
to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against
Women, thus seriously hampering the potential effectiveness of the treaty.
Further, Moroccan legislation discriminates against women with regard to
the minimum marriageable age, ability to contract a marriage, polygamy, and
divorce, among other areas. Women in Morocco also display lower literacy
levels than men and low levels of participation in higher segments of the
OMCT's report expresses concern that although domestic violence is little
documented and seldom reported, it appears to be a serious problem. There
are several barriers that prevent women and girls from lodging complaints
in relation to domestic violence. These include: traditional social beliefs
concerning the inferiority of women; the social unacceptability of
denouncing your husband; the lack of specific legislation on violence
against women in the family; and the lack of sensitivity on the part of law
enforcement officials. Furthermore, there is a lack of adequate structures
to shelter and help battered women and women face difficulties in obtaining
a judicial divorce on the grounds of harm and proving physical assault in
the domestic sphere as this requires a medical certificate as well as the
testimony of a witness. The report explains that these obstacles perpetuate
the message that domestic violence is to a certain degree acceptable and
allow the perpetrators of domestic violence to enjoy impunity. OMCT insists
that the government develop a comprehensive policy and legislative response
to the problem of domestic violence, which at the same time should dissolve
the mentioned obstacles.
Rape also appears to be heavily underreported due to the social stigma
attached to the loss of virginity and the difficulties women face in
proving that they have been raped due to the lack of a witness to the
crime. Another fact that may discourage women from filing a complaint is
the risk of being charged with having had unlawful sex in cases when she is
pregnant and cannot prove that she was raped. OMCT recommends that the
Government of Morocco repeal the evidentiary rules regarding rape, which
place a large part of the burden of proof on the rape victim.
Another topic of concern in the report is the increase in trafficking in
women and girls for prostitution and the exploitive situation of child
maids. OMCT notes that prostitutes may be doubly victimised; first forced
into prostitution and then detained since prostitution is illegal. As there
is currently no specific legislation to combat trafficking in persons, OMCT
recommends the adoption of new legislation to criminalise trafficking in
persons and to ensure that women and girls who are the victims of sexual
exploitation are not held criminally culpable.
Overall, OMCT's report concludes that while Morocco has a duty under
international law to act with due diligence to prevent, investigate,
prosecute and punish all forms of violence against women, irrespective of
whether this violence is committed by public or private individuals, this
obligation has not been adequately implemented at the national level.
For further information on or copies of the alternative report on violence
against women in Morocco or for further information on OMCT's programme on
Violence against Women in general please contact Carin Benninger-Budel at +
41 22 809 4939 or email@example.com.
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its nice to know that people around the world care about morocco and its people, but i will have you know i am a moroccan woman who has never been hit in her life by her father or former moroccan husband!! the person i used to get hit by was my spaniard husband who i was married to for a year. so please check the women's rights in spain as i feel it is more needed there that it is here!
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