Ordeal of rape victim Amina Filali shocks Morocco

Amina Al-Filali protest

Teenager killed herself after being forced to marry her attacker to save face

BY Jonathan Harwood LAST UPDATED AT 16:17 ON Mon 19 Mar 2012

THE CASE of a teenage rape victim in Morocco who committed suicide after she was forced to marry her attacker has caused outrage and led to demands that the country, usually seen as a liberal voice in the Muslim world, changes its laws.

Amina Filali killed herself earlier this month after drinking rat poison in the town of Larache, halfway between Rabat and Tangiers.

According to the BBC, when the 16-year-old girl's family told the authorities she had been raped they were advised to let her attacker marry her, to preserve their honour. As a result Filali was then forced to marry the man she had accused, and when she complained to her relatives that he had beaten her she was disowned.

It was then that the desperate girl drank rat poison. But, according to witnesses, that was not the end of her suffering. Her husband became so enraged when he realised what had happened that he dragged her down the street by her hair as she died.

The case has uncomfortable echoes of similar scandals in less liberal states like Iran, and protesters are demanding that the government takes action to repeal the laws that allowed her death to happen.

Reforms introduced by King Muhammad VI in 2004 all but outlawed polygamy and "significantly improved" the situation for women in the country, according to OECD. Among other things, they abolished a woman's duty of obedience to her husband and allowed them to keep assets after divorce.

However, a law known as Article 475, which allows the "kidnapper" of a minor to marry his victim so that dishonour is not brought on her family, remained. And although the minimum age for marriage is supposedly 18, it can be lowered if there are "exceptional circumstances".

Legislation designed to outlaw all forms of violence against women, planned since 2006, has yet to see the light of day.

By agreeing to marry Amina, her attacker avoided a maximum sentence of 20 years, and cannot now be charged with her rape.
 
Protesters in Rabat and on the internet are demanding that the law is changed. Facebook and Twitter campaigns have been started and Sky quoted activist Abadila Maaelaynine saying: "Amina was triply violated, by her rapist, by tradition and by Article 475 of the Moroccan law."
 
The case of Falili echoes that of the Afghan woman Gulnaz, which generated headlines around the world last year. She ended up in jail for adultery after she was raped by her cousin's husband and fell pregnant. It was feared that on her release she would be forced to marry her attacker to legitimise the child.
 
Her ordeal drew attention to the plight of women in Afghanistan, ten years after the Taliban were overthrown. She was eventually released without conditions after President Hamid Karzai intervened.
 
In 2010, Iran's attitude towards women was in the spotlight when Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was sentenced to death by stoning after being convicted of "adultery". Her fate remains unclear after reports last year that she would be executed by hanging. · 

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For the record, the penal code in Morocco stipulates that indecent acts perpetrated or attempted without violence over a child under 18 years, carry from 2 to 5 years of imprisonment (article 484); indecent acts perpetrated or attempted with violence against a minor of less than 18 years of age, carry form 10 to 20 years of imprisonment (article 485) - furthermore, if the indecent act against females under 18 years of age causes the loss of virginity, the crime will be punished with 20 - 30 years of imprisonment (article 485 - 486).

In Morocco the age of consent is set at 18 (tied to wedlock); however, in "justified cases" the marriageable age can be reduced. In rural areas especially, it's common for young teens (under 18) of appropriate age to wed. Keeping things in perspective, in parts of Europe the age of consent is as low as 15 (France, Denmark, Sweden, Greece), & in other parts, lower (Germany, 14; Italy, 14; Spain, 13). Furthermore, article 475 does not exonerate rapists, rather the article deals strictly with cases of statutory rape (intercourse with anyone under the age of 18) wherein the courts would, naturally, judge according to evidence and might only exonerate the adult party by way of marriage along the premise that the minor was consenting, is adjudged to be of sufficient age and that all relevant parties would settle for marriage. (The premise made in accordance with articles 484 - 486).

 

 Sounds great in writing but if all this legal jargon
didn't protect Amina and other girls like her, what is its use?.
Can you try and remember that we are talking about a human being; a frightened girl,
beaten and starved by her rapist, forced by a law to relive this rape, day in
day out through marriage.... And now go back and read your above comment
and you try and keep things in perspective. Article 475 is a sick law a loop
hole for rapists and perverted old men, to do as they please. I’m not convinced
this law has a minors best interest at heart and you can pad it as much as you
like with all the above jargon to make it more palatable – article 475 is that
loop hole that drove Amina to her death.

Leson learnt. Islamic laws and way of life remain the best. The rapist should have been killed. Once this and other laws that serve as a deterrent are in place as required by our Creator, then issues like this would not arise. True Islaam is indeed the panacea for mankind as it was designed for us all by our Creator

Let me be clear, article 475 is explicitly intended to deal with cases of abduction involving a minor (under 18) - a crime punishable by 1-5 years imprisonment - where there might exist grounds for marriage as a final solution. For clarity and beyond the obvious, let's hypothesis a love-struck 17 and 19 year old couple running away together. Now Irrespective of the the circumstance in any particular case, by the letter of the law, there's no compulsion in the marriage and the minor is, by law, always in control of their own fate. Unless the minor and their guardians want a marriage, the accused faces jail time of up to 5 years. The article makes absolutely no explicit reference to rape and falls under "Section 4: Abduction and Non-Representation of Minors".The crime of rape is dealt with under "Section 6: Crimes Against Morality (Moral Turpitude)" and I've already stated the severe penalties.Neglecting any misapplication. How article 475 might apply in, and strictly to, certain cases of alleged statutory rape (intercourse with a minor) would follow an initial investigation into the alleged crime upon which the prosecution might call upon the section 4 article if it were preferable (to all parties) or impossible (lack of evidence) to prosecute under section 6. By the letter and certainly the spirit of the law, article 475 doesn't exonerate rapists! If article 475 is being exploited, then that's an entirely different matter and the government have pledged a review.Beyond its obvious nature, for a broader understanding of statutory rape, consider another hypothetical case wherein a 17 and 19 year old voluntarily engage in illicit relations. The law would still necessitate that the 19 year old be prosecuted for the corruption of a minor (2 years jail time). Alternatively, let's consider another example wherein an adult party may also be charged with the crime even if they themselves were duped into believing that the minor was of legal age. Does prosecution of the adult alone for their carnal knowledge seem fair?In Morocco the age of consent is set at 18 (tied to wedlock); however, in "justified cases" the marriageable age can be reduced; what case and age is deemed justifiable is matter of debate ("Politics, Philosophy, Culture", Michel Foucault). Keeping things in perspective, in parts of Europe the age of consent is as low as 15 (France, Denmark, Sweden, Greece), and in other parts, lower (Germany, 14; Italy, 14; Portugal, 14).By our religion, Marriage (a union radical feminist oppose) is a sacred bond, that can't be forced (and only in ignorance would it be). Premarital sex in Morocco is deemed a repugnant act, punishable by law (something liberalists oppose). Nobody upholding their religion would wed a person known to have voluntarily engaged in such activity. A patriarchally chauvinistic element might have society overlook the males part (unjustifiably), but a female is almost always shunned and labelled; faced by this, a self-fulfilling prophecy is very capable of creating its own reality. There are little moral lessons to learn from the West here; family breakdown, premarital sex and the epidemic outbreak of STIs are widely documented.Forcible rape, however, is an entirely different matter and to reiterate, by the letter of the law, no such rapist could ever be exonerated! Above all, there's absolutely no basis for such a law in Islam. If there exists a social stigma surrounding rape within a society - and there does within every society ("The Truth about Rape", by Robert, M.d. Golden, Fred, Ph.D. Peterson) - then, by and large, this matter (a phenomena transcending borders and cultures) falls beyond the reach of the law. Take the United States for example, the stigma surrounding the topic has resulted in rape being the most under-reported violent crime, with victims often citing embarrassment, shame and victimization for their silence. Likewise in Muslim societies a victim of rape might often be looked upon as the guilty party. Such stigma arises from the belief that a "good Muslim/Christian/Jewish girl/boy would never have found themselves in such a position" or conversely, by the moral decay within a society that leads members of the community to automatically regard everyone else with skepticism. For whatever the reasons for it, If such a stigma forces genuine rape victims to make inequitable concessions, then clearly much work needs to be done to alleviate social ignorance; but don't make the law a scapegoat.My own position is that societies, across the globe, need to tackle all the factors that contribute to the stigmatization surrounding rape - whether those factors are real or imagined, genuine or false, legitimate or illegitimate. They need urgent addressing otherwise the avenues rape victims are left facing often lead to more adversity - and to various degrees, this is a sad universal truth.Furthermore, re-read your comment and you might acknowledge that, not only are you mixing apples with oranges, you're merely making appeals to emotion. Moreover, can you substantiate any of the claims that you've made with evidence? (From allegations of forcible rape prior to marriage, to the separate charge of domestic violence.)  What has actually led Amina to commit suicide? And that's not a hypothetical question.The Ministry of Justice recently maintained that "legal procedures have been respected" and they further stated that "the deceased held a consensual sexual relationship" prior to their marriage, and God knows best. Whilst the claim is denied by the parents, and I would urge you give the deceased the benefit of the doubt, the Ministry also stated "the prosecution decided not to open a file" (presumably under section 6) according to the wishes of all parties concerned. The accused has also denied raping Amina. In light of these statements, it would appear that the Ministry are alleging that this case was one of statutory rape of a consenting minor. The parents claim otherwise (although the mother of the deceased is claimed to have been thee prime advocate for marriage). Why didn't the parents press for prosecution under section 6. For whatever reason, if it happened that the prosecution could only prosecute under section 4, article 475, the crime is still punishable by 1-5 years imprisonment. If no charge was made, it would be because the minor and their guardians approved of a marriage. Until an investigation brings to light the truth of the matter, I recommend you reserve your judgments.The global media hysteria surrounding this case - conveniently filled with Eurocentric bigotry, Islamophobia and anti-Moroccan jargon - is rather quite questionable considering the amount of disinformation, misconceptions and contradictory reports that it basis itself upon. As of yet, the truth remains to be seen and we're dealing with accusations.If there's a misapplication of the law, if the article is being exploited, for what it's worth (and that's clearly, not much) I'll be the first to condemn it.If you're Moroccan, by all means start a petition, but if you're not, I'd recommend you start a little closer to home. Assuming that's somewhere in the West, how many petitions have you started against the existence (would you care to justify) of the glamorized Western pornographic industry and what of all the victims that fall prey to this odiously immoral and exploitative machine? Coincidentally, how many people have turned to this industry, as well as prostitution, having first been victims of society (across a wide spectrum, including as victims of rape). Research groups have long taken note of the rape culture prevalent in the Western world, yet Western culture (especially through the media) continues to objectify women and normalize misogynistic practices. "Pornland", by Gail Dines details the radical extent to which the normalization of violent and immoral practices impact upon viewers - and impact that reverberates around the world thanks to globalization. The number of rape victims in the Western world who have turned to suicide as a forbidden means of escape stands at a appalling figure, yet there's hardly two words said about it. w much light have you shed upon such stories? How many petitions have you signed regarding the subject of rape and all contributing factors; or to keep things within your perspective, is rape okay, so long as the victim doesn't wed their assailant!!? An act, for the record, which has absolutely no Islamic basis and is certainly not sanctioned by the letter and spirit of the law!

I guess you know her family agreed to that marriage: if someone's to blame, it's her family, because they could have refused this solution. Another version of this case states that she was not actually raped, meaning she'd had previous contact with the man who became her husband by means of this legal possibility. Who's right, who's wrong? If later on we see groups of militants trying to oust the government - with the help and to the profit of the occident - we'll know this campaign was a trick. NGOs and media, including the internet, have a lot more power than governments, these days.

By default most Moroccans do not believe what is being said
by the Moroccan ministers. So you saying we need to wait for it to be investigated
is very funny!  In fact, in Morocco the
last government debate on this subject, turned into a debate about rat poison. This
is how bad the Moroccan government is, they are basically laughing at their own
people. Their legacy is to torture anyone that stands up against the status quo,
so what do they care about justice for Amina, she is poor and a woman of all
things – who in Moroccan government wastes their time on these topics??!!.  This story is a thorn in the side for the
Moroccan regime because they have been caught out when all they wanted was to trundle
along with the same old, same old. You may not believe Amina, but many more
minors are stepping forward with their stories and contacting radio stations to
speak about their plight. Yet! Morocco has said: it does not want to move on
reform under pressure. Are they afraid that the finely tuned nest of corruption
might unravel and all hell will break loose?

You speak of western porn; look at Morocco it is now the
playground for all types of perverts, thanks to the current Moroccan
ruler. The lack of protection, afforded to women and children has given every pervert a green light to do as he pleases, it is their haven. They are coming from all over: Arabs and Westerners : Gulf Arabs flock here in the summer and
set up visas to procure Moroccan women and then treat them like slaves back in
their own countries, Paedophiles can be seen walking with young Moroccan boys
(mainly street children) in Marrakesh and there are prostitutes (male and
female) to be found in almost every hotel in Casablanca. Morocco is fast
becoming a favourite destination after Thailand for sexual tourism!  And no one in Morocco is speaking about this!

The Moroccan government should see that Amina’s case is a wakeup
call and take serious action on issues such as the violence on women and
children, but instead they are going to take a long time to investigate and properly
formulate a bunch of lies for the Moroccan people to hear. I and many like me  want better for our children, if the government
is not protecting its citizens, you may find many people taking the matter into their own hands.  
 

It's almost as if you've gone out of your way to prove your level of ignorance. You really must take Moroccans for idiots if you think your campaigns of demagoguery and deceit have any bearing on the majority of us.

 you mean the minority of you - I know your type in Morocco! You have no idea how the rest of Moroccans live. You live in a bubble of luxury..  Your truth is not my truth.

Jonas, most of their deceitful campaign is centralized around bashing article 475 and claiming that rapists are mostly exonerated by forcibly marrying them to their victims!! They've made out that the Moroccan penal code doesn't have any laws against rape other than article 475, which carries 1-5 years imprisonment at best. These claims couldn't be further from the truth!

Article 475 falls under section 4: Abduction and Non-Representation of MINORS!!! and makes absolutely no reference to rape! Beyond the obvious nature of abduction, coercion (seduction) of a minor falls under this bracket. In cases such as Amina's, where it was found (and she admitted) the two held consensual sexual relations (still a crime under section 6), prosecution under section 4 might be permitted if preferable to all parties.

The article itself has nothing to do with rape.

Rape is dealt with under Section 6: Crimes Against Morality/Moral Turpitude, and reads:

Article 484: 
Est puni de l'emprisonnement de deux à cinq ans, tout attentat à la pudeur consommé ou tenté sans violence, sur la personne d'un mineur de moins de dix-huit ans, d'un incapable, d'un handicapé ou d'une personne connue pour ses capacités mentales faibles, de l'un ou de l'autre sexe [184]. 

Article 485: 
Est puni de la réclusion de cinq à dix ans tout attentat à la pudeur consommé ou tenté avec violences contre des personnes de l'un ou de l'autre sexe. Toutefois si le crime a été commis sur la personne d'un enfant de moins de dix-huit ans, d'un incapable, d'un handicapé, ou sur une personne connue pour ses capacités mentales faibles, le coupable est puni de la réclusion de dix à vingt ans [185]. 

Article 486: 
Le viol est l'acte par lequel un homme a des relations sexuelles avec une femme contre le gré de celle-ci. Il est puni de la réclusion de cinq à dix ans. Toutefois si le viol a été commis sur la personne d'une mineure de moins de dix-huit ans, d'une incapable, d'une handicapée, d'une personne connue par ses facultés mentales faibles, ou d'une femme enceinte, la peine est la réclusion de dix à vingt ans [186].

Human Rights Watch published an article entitled "Girl's Death Highlights Flawed Laws" and, although the author doesn't make some of the more cynical claims that Moroccan activists are making, they do make the intellectually dishonest and propagandist claim: "The [Moroccan penal] code criminalizes rape in article 486 and sexual acts with a minor “without violence” in article 484."

For the record, indecent acts perpetrated or attempted with violence against a minor of less than 18 years of age, carry form 10 to 20 years of imprisonment (article 485) - furthermore, if the indecent act against females under 18 years of age causes the loss of virginity, the crime will be punished with 20 - 30 years of imprisonment (article 485 - 486).

Why did the author purposefully leave that out? Why are they purposefully trying to mislead the public audience? It only serves to highlight your point about the influence of the media and NGOs; and furthermore about the out-right deceit and trickery of those leading this campaign.

No, actually, I'm part of the underprivileged class. In fact, far too underprivileged to hang with the 20 Feb class, who whilst sporting Che hairstyles fashion designer jeans purchased by the foreign funds they receive on a wire from Belgium. Moroccans know all about you. The 20 Feb movement is a joke. You've failed. All your campaigns of deceit went out the window because Moroccan's are 1000 times smarter than your "50 % are illiterate" rants would have the world believe. Yes, keep consoling yourself in which ever fanciful way you please. It's a bit rich though how huggy bear and co want to act as our moral guardians today and yet continually campaign openly in support of promiscuity, gay rights, eating ramadan and abolishing the call to prayer. Lakom deenukom w liya deen. Moroccans are all for justice and development, but just as equally opposed to your hidden agendas and demagoguery. Allah, Alwatan, Almalik.

 I am a Moroccan Muslim woman and I can tell you that I
have lived through hell because of abuse, harassment and poverty in Morocco. I
am not fooled by the Arab spring, and the 20 feb movement, I believe they
were instigated by enemies of Islam. As a woman, I know that I will only be
safe if true Islam comes to Morocco - until then I am afraid of walking the
streets on my own - with the harassment and abuse of Moroccan men. So Aminas
cause is very close to my heart! It is my own experience.

Assalaamu 3laykoum w rahmatullah. Sister, I do not condone the level of misguidance which has effected many of us; but Morocco is not only working against globalization (its imposition and influences), but also the agenda's of the Middle East and our immediate neighbours. Morocco has plenty of enemies within and without, but our ulama are still there for people who want them. Above all, this:

"Let him who finds good praise Allah and let him who finds other than that blame no one but himself"

Amina's case is unclear; its further been marred by dangerous misconceptions, contradictions and absolute falsehood. Amidst all that however, it's the government which possess the documented evidence. Furthermore, the amount of lies being told about our penal code only serves to highlight the exploitation of this story and the disinformation the propagandists are using to progress their own hidden agendas.

In Morocco, the punishment for rape actually comes under Section 6 (Crimes Against Morality/Moral Turpitude), and reads:

Article 484: 
Est puni de l'emprisonnement de deux à cinq ans, tout attentat à la pudeur consommé ou tenté sans violence, sur la personne d'un mineur de moins de dix-huit ans, d'un incapable, d'un handicapé ou d'une personne connue pour ses capacités mentales faibles, de l'un ou de l'autre sexe [184]. 

Article 485: 
Est puni de la réclusion de cinq à dix ans tout attentat à la pudeur consommé ou tenté avec violences contre des personnes de l'un ou de l'autre sexe. Toutefois si le crime a été commis sur la personne d'un enfant de moins de dix-huit ans, d'un incapable, d'un handicapé, ou sur une personne connue pour ses capacités mentales faibles, le coupable est puni de la réclusion de dix à vingt ans [185]. 

Article 486: 
Le viol est l'acte par lequel un homme a des relations sexuelles avec une femme contre le gré de celle-ci. Il est puni de la réclusion de cinq à dix ans. Toutefois si le viol a été commis sur la personne d'une mineure de moins de dix-huit ans, d'une incapable, d'une handicapée, d'une personne connue par ses facultés mentales faibles, ou d'une femme enceinte, la peine est la réclusion de dix à vingt ans [186].

Beyond the barren rhetoric & appeals to emotion, a court of law deals foremost with evidence. What you think is an irrelevance, the question is, what can you prove. False accusations are easily made & yet carry profound repercussions. 

"If a fasiq comes to you with any news, verify it" (Al-Hujraat, 6) 

In this case, the mother first brought the case to officials with a charge of rape & subsequently, a fact-finding investigation was called for. However, the recorded findings state the two actually held consensual relations (premarital relations are hardly ever the best kept secret, especially in small villages). This was itself admitted to by Amina and this is all documented. (A medical examination also revealed a loss of virginity, but no signs of rape.) It was thus requested and agreed, BY ALL PARTIES, not to prosecute under section 6 - which deals with all cases of rape, even "statutory rape". Prosecution under section 4 - which deals only with abduction and non-representation of MINORS - was called upon instead (with the likely charge in this case being the coercion of a minor) which still warrants a maximum of 5 years jail time. If however, there existed a marriage between the two, article 475 states that prosecution couldn't occur until its annulment was pronounced. The father, mother & deceased all signed agreements consenting to marriage. The accused on the other hand, initially rejected the idea and only later agreed. By law, no marriage can be enforced. Furthermore, why would any parent and victim not press for prosecution under section 6? If an alleged victim themselves denies they were raped & there's no evidence proving otherwise, how do you suppose the law should apply? Above all, would you request to marry your child off to their rapist? As a minor (of appropriate age) would you accept to marry your rapist? If so, why so? These are the real issues we should be tackling. Islam doesn't look for scapegoats, we are all accountable.

I'm aware of the stigma that surrounds rape and this stigma is not unique to Morocco;  as I already said, societies, across the globe, need to tackle all the factors that contribute to the stigmatization surrounding rape - whether those factors are real or imagined, genuine or false, legitimate or illegitimate. They need urgent addressing otherwise the avenues rape victims are left facing often lead to more adversity - and to various degrees, this is a sad universal truth. There is absolutely no Islamic scripture which promotes the idea of marrying a rape victim to their assailant (a crime which, at best, warrants exile (imprisonment) as punishment). Contrary to what's being reported, by the letter and certainly the spirit of the law, Morocco's penal code doesn't in fact, sanction this act. If such acts occur, they are misapplications of the law and largely a by-product of a social phenomena demanding such "justice". Nevertheless, for "true Islam" to flourish, the people have to act as upright Muslims for there's no compulsion in religion. In this case, a great deal of emphasis in Islam is made on keeping pure.

"Whoever can guarantee for me (that he will guard) what is between his jaws (tongue) and what is between his legs (private parts), I will guarantee for him Paradise." (hadith)

This alone ought to keep believers (male and female) from ever even considering such immoral acts! We make no welcome place for premarital relations let alone rape! We make no welcome place for sexual harassment, immodesty and altogether, immorality. We, as a society, should stand up to these issues.

By Islamic ideals, retributive justice takes a secondary seat to restorative justice and above all, eradicating the very cause. Islam tackles the root: the very idea. Let us begin to take responsibility for the state of our own affairs; it is we, the people, who make the societies we live in. 

Also, enough with painting Morocco in such a negative light. The authenticity and practice of our Islam is superior in many, many ways and this is testified to even by outsiders.

w w w . youtube . c o m/watch?v=_Ei-YZE6v_g

Allah ya3tik el khir.

Salaam Brother, I will follow the story with an open mind.
Truth will prevail in the end. I pray that one day all Moroccan women will live in dignity, without harassment and brutality. Oppression should be
treated seriously by the law and harsh sentences should be handed out in order
to protect the most vulnerable people in society.   Oppressors
should be brought to account within every level of society: government, religion,
companies, police, and families. Oppression must be stamped out and it should be the cornerstone for every law since Allah (SWT) has forbidden it. This can only happen if we have upright people
governing us. I pray that the Ulima are of the people with the best disposition and who read the best meaning in the Quran. If they are strong in removing this evil from Morocco they will have much support and success. Inshallah.

Alikum salam Brother.
 

Women continue to be brutalized simply because physically, we cannot defend ourselves. Being a woman means that at any given time you are weaker than half of the people around you. It is a scary situation to be in and we need strong laws to make sure we're not victimized because of our relative physical weakness. 

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