The CruiseQueen was asking me about the position of women in Morocco. She seemed surprised that my dentist and pharmacist were women so,on International Women's Day, I thought I'd review the position of women in society over the last year.
The 2011 constitution guarantees "Men and women have equal civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.” but that doesn't necessarily translate into practice so last week the government set out a draft law to establish an “authority to ensure parity between men and woman and fight all forms of discrimination”. Bassima al-Hakkaoui, minister of solidarity, women, family and social development, described the draft law as "victory for Moroccan women."
Progress was also made last year when new regionalisation laws were adopted before the local and regional elections in September, mandating a 27% requirement for women candidates in Communal Councils and a 1/3 requirement in Regional Councils and the recent reshuffling of Morocco’s diplomatic corps has made the country the leader in the Arab and Muslim world for the representation of women in diplomacy.
In January a ban on the sale of the veil was introduced. This doesn't prohibit them being worn, it would be very unfair on Toureg grannies to do so, but I conjecture is aimed at the promotion of the salafi veil in the north. If you want to wear one you must be committed enough to make one yourself.
The loophole that allowed a rapist to escape punishment by marrying his victim has been closed following a notorious case where a poor family tried to make a victim do just that, but the attitude to rape is still somewhere closer to the dinosaurs than it was in Britain 50 years ago. The rapist is presumed innocent until proven guilty with evidential requirements that are hard to meet and the woman is consequently judged guilty of immorality and effectively shunned. A woman was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for murder when she killed the man who had repeatedly raped her after the authorities failed to help her.
Domestic violence remains an unaddressed problem.The latest debate is over the need for improved legislation. Women’s groups have been joined by the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) in advocating for sweeping changes in both the law and practice to address this issue. As a result, a draft law has been in the works for some time but is as yet unenacted.