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The New Arab

Thousands of women victims of violence in Morocco

New figures have been released on gender-based violence [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 December, 2017

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A new report documents cases of gender based violence in Morocco, but are these figures just the tip of the iceberg?
Six women have been killed and a further 6,039 left with psychological difficulties in the past year as a result of gender-based violence in Morocco, according to a new report.

Compiled by the Moroccan Association for Women's Rights, the report documents distressing levels of violence perpetrated against women in the country, as well as the psychological, health and economic effects it causes for society.

The report, which was released by the association on Friday, consists of 4,603 women's testimonies given to support centres attached to Moroccan women's associations across the country.

The annual report documented 6,039 instances of psychological abuse, equivalent to forty percent of the total violent acts committed against women, of which 840 consisted of verbal abuse, 200 instances of death threats, 903 instances of threats of physical violence, and 206 cases of threats of expulsion from the marital home.

The report documented 5,037 cases of physical violence, including 237 cases of attempted murder and 241 cases of hostage taking.

The report further documented 622 instances of sexual violence, including 184 cases of rape and 148 cases of sexual coercion. The rape figures include 119 instances of marital rape.
55% of reported acts of violence against women were perpetrated by husbands against wives, and that victims reported the violence in only 3% of cases
Shocking though these figures may be, they are believed to represent only the tip of the iceberg of gender-based violence, as the vast majority of such cases go unreported.

According to a 2011 government survey, 55 percent of reported acts of violence against women were perpetrated by husbands against wives, and that victims reported the violence in only 3 percent of cases.

The new report also outlines the psychological, societal, health and economic effects caused by violence against women. These range from constant feelings of humiliation and fear, to negative and suicidal thoughts, and in extreme cases resorting to begging after becoming unemployed or divorced and falling into poverty.

The report strongly criticises the flaws in Moroccan criminal law, which it alleges do not protect women's rights and freedoms. The report called for an overhaul of the country's family legal code, currently based on shari'a law, as well as a repeal of all laws that discriminate against women.

It also urged the provision of legal aid to women who have been abused as well as exemption from paying judicial fees and access to free medical examinations.

Morocco's family law underwent reform in 2004, in a bid to eradicate discrimination against women. However many NGOs are still fiercely critical of the legal code.

The Advocates and Mobilisation for Rights Associations stated in 2014: "The 2004 Family Code allows polygamy, maintains men’s power to unilaterally divorce their wives without cause, provides for unequal access to divorce between men and women, maintains discrimination in child custody and guardianship and inheritance, and does not adequately protect women’s economic rights during marriage or upon divorce. Unwed mothers are discriminated against and made vulnerable to abuse." 

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