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Koulila Brahim – WNN Opinion

Moroccan young bride - Amina Fillali funeral

Relatives mourn at the funeral of Amina Filali after she committed suicide following a court decision in Morocco forcing her to marry her rapist. Women in Morocco have been gathering in large protests since Filali's death to let the Moroccan government know that they want the laws changed. Image: ZIARE

(WNN/MWN) Kénitra, MOROCCO: Rape has been among the most horrible crimes that a man can commit and one of the worst nightmares that can befall a girl or woman. No society is spared from this barbaric act, for rapists exist on every single spot on earth, and because men that consider women as sex objects exist everywhere, Still, we can say that rape as a phenomenon is more prevalent in some places than in others.

For instance, we all know that in India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan and many other African countries, the rate of rape is shockingly high. This is so because of factors such as war, illiteracy and poor enforcement of laws, among others. The way these countries handle rape differs from one place to another, according to religion, culture and law.

Still, a rapist should in the end be punished to deter others. It is really illogical that a rapist gets away with his crime. In some Arab countries, rapists are somehow rewarded for this horrific act; a victim is compelled to marry her rapist as a kind of ‘rehabilitation’, which sometimes, if not often, kills her twice. Amina Filali, a Moroccan girl (from Larache, a city in the north) has killed herself to escape the hell of her ‘husband’. She was compelled to marry her rapist according to article 475 of the Moroccan penal code.

Amina was killed twice. First, she was mercilessly raped by a Moroccan man in 2011; then she was forced to marry him as a kind of protection. It was her mother who got her father to accept the proposition that a judge had made. The latter had wanted to protect Amina by marrying her to her killer — he robbed her of the most precious thing an Arab girl has, virginity.

As such, Amina had to live with the person who had ruined her life. Ironically, the rapist did his best to force her into leaving his house by repeatedly beating her. Fortunately for him, Amina spared him the trouble. Living in rather miserable conditions, beyond a 16-year-old girl’s physical and mental capacities, she resorted to ingesting rat poison putting an end to her life on March 10, 2012.

Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code killed Amina. On what basis did the judge marry her to that monster? How are we protecting such a young girl by marrying her to her rapist? It was article 475, on which the judge relied, which killed her the second time. Moroccans are familiar with similar cases where a girl who has been raped has to marry the person who has violated her.

Although, I am not a jurist, I would say that this law—a lot of articles in the Moroccan penal code were borrowed from the French one—was adopted to kind of deter rapists and punish them by marrying their victims. As such, a person would have to marry a raped woman, not a virgin one, and then not enjoy a full marriage, as it were. I totally disagree with this article and with those who conceived it.

What deterrence is this, for God’s sake? To really deter a rapist the law should leave no rescue door, so to speak, for him. When we give him the choice to go to prison or marry the victim, we already let him get away with his (foul) crime. Worse, we reward him: anyone can marry the one he loves – who may not love him – by ripping her hymen and putting her family before reality.

Is not this article complicit in crimes of rape? This law is absolutely defective! It not only helps criminals get away with their crimes but also ruins the life of innocent girls. In other words, it closes the door to enabling the victims of rape, their parents, civil society make a rapist pay dearly for his crime. Incidentally, when families accept to marry their girls to their rapists, they deprive them of living decently. The rapist feels that his victim accepts to marry him because she has no alternative, which makes him bully her more.

This is exactly what happened to Amina. Her ‘husband’ maltreated her to take revenge for having been made to marry her, as if he were the victim.

Still, I cannot grasp the rationale behind this cursed and silly article. In Islam, as well as in the Moroccan family code, a judge has the right to make two people marry only when they are in agreement and like each other; otherwise he would be breaking one of the most important pillars of marriage, which is the consent of both parties.

If the judge had sent him to prison Amina might have gotten over her trauma, but compelling her to live with him could yield no result but what happened. The least thing that could have relieved her pain is seeing that monster behind the bars. Who told the judge and her family that she would feel comfortable with him? The poor girl could not revolt against her family– who, in turn condoned the crimes of the rapist and the judge – or against the law. She preferred to kill herself as would a rat be killed, creating  a huge polemic about the article and the whole case.

Nobody heeded civil society’s voice. It would be ungrateful to say that Moroccan civil society did nothing to bring to the forefront her case yet the government seems to not care a damn about it, except for the condemnation of its council, which remains a symbolic act.

What is shameful in her case is that the Moroccan Minister of Justice Mr. Mustapha Ramid rather underplayed Amina’s death, claiming that she had married her rapist willingly and that she had intercourse with him as the two had been having an affair. Actually, Mr. Ramid presented a very flimsy argument for the judge’s decision: he said that her father was the one who asked for marriage –to avoid ‘Chouha’ (scandal). Indeed, this was another factor that pushed her family to accept the “wise” proposition of the judge and made Amina put an end to her life.

Fear of scandal has made many ‘Aminas’ either live like slaves or commit suicide.

In Morocco, raped girls are considered a shame upon their families. One wonders how they can be considered as guilty as their rapists, but unfortunately this is widely common in some families – not only in Morocco – but in the Arab world in general.  Very often a raped girl’s family does their best to get rid of her as if she were rotten meat: they either compel her to marry her rapist himself or kind of ‘sell her’ to the first man who knocks on their door – who is any suitor, regardless of his social status. Such Moroccan families fear scandal and the sarcasm of their relatives, acquaintances, friends.

Amina was a victim of this prehistoric mentality. Instead of being defended she was flung into hell (compelled to live with a monster). In this respect, Mr. Tariq Ramadan, the great Swiss (of Egyptian origins) thinker and writer, while giving a lecture in Tangiers on March 24, could not but bring up her story, confirming that the article in question has nothing to do with Islam.

The case of Amina is, doubtless, extremely moving and one cannot but feel sorry for her killing herself. Still, it reminds us of how some people think when their daughters are raped.

Should not one in such a case sue the culprit and support the victim by all possible means? Did not Amina deserve to be treated as a victim of the barbarism of a monster who ripped her hymen? This poor girl was the victim of a barbaric act, but worse than that, she was the victim of a stupid law and a society, especially her family, still living in ‘benighted-ness’. If this case goes unnoticed, surely many ‘Aminas’ will suffer from the same treatment knowing that hundreds of similar cases happen each year without their victims being cared about.

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Koulila Brahim is a Moroccan English teacher and essayist. He lives in Kénitra, Morocco, and he working at Mohamed V University in Agdal, Rabat. He obtained his M.A. (Studies in English language and culture) at Ibn Tofail University, Kénitra (Morocco) in 2010.  He is interested  in what is going on in Morocco, namely at the political and social levels.

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