Morocco MPs drafts bill against sexual harassment

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Moroccan lawmakers have drafted a bill threatening jail terms for sexual harassment that will soon be submitted to parliament, media reported on Thursday.

The proposed law would affect the author of “any unwelcome act against a third party in public spaces, whether an act, remark or gesture of a sexual nature, or intended to obtain a sexual act,” said Arabic-language daily Al-Massae.

Prison terms ranging from two months to two years and fine of between 1,000 and 3,000 dirhams (90-270 euros/$122-365) are envisaged.

The jail sentence could be extended to five years if the victim is “a work colleague” or “under the supervision of the person responsible for the incriminating act,” the paper reported.

At its weekly meeting on Thursday, the government indicated that a commission chaired by Islamist premier Abdelilah Benkirane would “revise this bill before re-submitting it to the cabinet.”

It would not become law until approved by both chambers of parliament.

Former family and social development minister Nouzha Skalli hailed “the arrival of this long-awaited bill,” when contacted by AFP.

“I regret that women's rights groups have not been involved in drafting the bill,” said the MP, adding that marital rape was not covered by the text.

As in numerous other Arab countries, notably Egypt, sexual harassment of women is commonplace in Morocco, despite the adoption of a new constitution in 2011 which enshrines gender equality and urges the state to promote it.

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