The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Feminising the Ma'zoon: Morocco allows women to officiate marriages Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Feminising the Ma'zoon: Morocco allows women to officiate marriages

The bold step works towards achieving gender equality and empowering women in society [AFP]

Date of publication: 6 September, 2017

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
Women in Morocco can soon start authorising marriages, divorces and a number of other legal contracts as well as assist judges, as part of judicial reforms starting in October.
Women in Morocco can soon start authorising marriages, divorces and a number of other legal contracts as well as assist judges, as part of judicial reforms starting in October.

The marriage registrar, known as ma'zoon in Arabic, is traditionally a man, as Moroccan law forbade women from officiating marriage and divorce contracts.

However, a recent decision to push for profound reforms to the justice system in Morocco - initiated by former minister of justice and liberties Mustafa al-Ramid - may see women starting to officiate marriage contracts for the first time in Moroccan history by October.

The move comes against the backdrop of criticism from ultra-conservatives in the country who argue that the role of a ma'zoon is conditioned on "masculinity".

Salafist preacher Hassan al-Kettani - who was formerly imprisoned on terrorism charges - strongly condemned the move, claiming that allowing women to officiate marriages is contrary to religious teachings.

Marriage registrar and ma'zoon Abdullatif Ajlawe also condemned the move.

"Feminising the profession in Morocco is not in line with religious teachings," he told The New Arab. "According to religious law, women cannot officiate marriages for legitimate reasons."

He questioned the "ability of women to carry out the profession, as it is highly demanding", adding that any "inadequacies in justice system cannot be remedied through the inclusion of women".

Many in Morocco disagreed, arguing that the bold step works towards achieving gender equality and empowering women in society.

Mohammed Bolouz, a researcher in social sciences, believes integrating women in the country's judicial system is a positive step forward.

"It is vital for women to engage in various fields as advisers, ministers, judges, professors, lawyers, police officers and so on," Bolouz told The New Arab.

"Women are equally able to make judgments and any moves to exclude them must be based on strong and legitimate reasons," he said, "We cannot prevent women from their rights simply because of customs and traditions."

He stressed that the focus should be on an individual's merits and not their gender. 

"Including women in the judicial system, and in positions such as marriage registrars, should only be based on their qualifications and experience, other than that, there are no reasons to prevent them from apply for such positions, and the constitution must defend their rights to work," Bolouz told The New Arab.

"Religious law does not stipulate the condition of 'masculinity' for officiating marriages, which confirms that Moroccan women can carry out the tasks just like men."

The law, which is expected to pass in October, will require the marriage registrar to be a Moroccan Muslim, have no criminal records and be in good health to carry out his duties.

Women's rights groups believe that the decision to "feminise the Ma'oon" is a positive and bold step that will tackle problems faced by women who wish to enter legal and other professions in the country.

Meanwhile, the National Council for Human Rights - one of the organisations supporting the move - has called on religious scholars and clerics to embrace the resolution and work together "in aim of pushing forward the rights of women to enter the profession and put an end to damaging religious and political influences".

Most Popular

Read More