Yoked to her nightmares
The death of Amina al-Filali has finally managed to rouse the government, as well as the public in Morocco, to the fact that their laws need to change. Amina, a sixteen year old girl, was tied down to a life of wretched existence. She was made to marry her rapist and she thought the only way out for her was suicide. This is just one of the few cases which have gained publicity. There are many more stories which are equally miserable but which are not addressed.
Amina’s suicide has finally made the law-makers in Morocco realize the fact that the law was born from a deeply flawed tradition, and that in a situation where the country is developing, where education is becoming more prevalent, and where ideas are changing, the laws too, need to change in accordance.
In Morocco, according to the penal code, Article 475 allows the rapist to escape punishment after having raped a minor if he marries the minor. The law is flawed not only in the sense that it is geared completely towards the protection of the rapist, and how horribly careless it is in addressing the rape-victim; it is also flawed from a strictly legal point of view because the legal marriageable age is 18, which is adulthood. This law was apparently made, also, to protect the shame and the honour of the rape-victim’s family. And it is through this law that Amina was married off to her rapist, by her own family. It is only after she killed herself that activists rose up and demanded a change, and the government too, conceded that the law was too outdated and too morally incorrect to remain as it is.
Mustapha Ramid, the Justice Minister has conceded to the need for change, but it is not the law which ultimately causes such crime rates, it is the thought behind the law. It is the general societal mind-set which spurs the creation of such laws. It's not just in Morocco - in India, in the subcontinent and the Middle East, such practices are quite commonplace. The idea behind it is that it is shameful for a girl to get raped, and hence, her dignity is not compromised when she’s married off to the rapist. Nobody really stops to think about how she’s supposed to live with a man who has inflicted such deep physical and mental trauma upon her. Nobody stops to think who should really be ashamed.
Why should the woman be made to feel ashamed, when it’s the man who has acted like an animal? Why should the woman be made to marry her rapist in order to protect him, or her own family? Why is it so difficult for her to get justice? Why did Amina have to kill herself in order to escape her predicament?
These are the societal mind-sets which make up the laws, which decide our fate. It is only the wide-spread change of these basic ideologies which shall lead to proper judicial changes. This shall bring about long-lasting protection for women, which in turn shall let a rape-victim stand up for the justice which is due to her. Morocco shall change its law, but the mind-set too, needs to evolve.