Morocco passes new law to combat violence against women

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Morocco’s parliament ratified a law on Wednesday to combat violence against women after months of debate and discussion between political parties and civil society in a move aimed at containing violence against women, a phenomenon that is wide spreading among Moroccan society.

A year and a half ago after drafting the law, 168 deputies voted today in favor of this law, prepared by the Ministry of Family, Solidarity, Equality and Social Development, in partnership with the Ministry of Justice in exchange for 55 votes against.

In her speech to the members of parliament shared later on Facebook, Bassima Al-Hikawi, the Minister of Family, Solidarity, Equality and Social Development, considered this project as “a normative law on combating violence against women that carries the conceptual definition of all kinds of violence that can be practiced against women; offering preventive measures, a system of gender-sensitive content that emphasizes the status of violence against women on account of their sex, and even aggravating the punishment in this case”.

Under the new law, tougher penalties are imposed, especially if women are subjected to violence by those close to them or those who have authority over them and are supposed to protect them. The law criminalizes forcing women into marriage with a penalty of six months to one year in prison and a fine of 10,000 to 30.000 dirhams, or one of these two penalties.

The new draft law also provides for a number of penalties for the molesters, where a person is considered a perpetrator of the crime of sexual harassment and is punished by imprisonment from one month to six months and a fine of 2000 to 10,000 dirhams if he harasses others in public spaces or others with sexual gestures, as well as by written, electronic, telephonic, recordings or photographs of a sexual nature.

The bill also provides for the criminalization of the violation of the sanctity of the woman’s body, the waste or misappropriation of family funds, and any person who commits violence against his brother or sister shall be sentenced to imprisonment from three months to two years.

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