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Morocco to amend law on rape-marriages after victim (16) commits suicide

Amina Al Filali's suicide last week drew attention to Article 475 of Morocco's penal code, which allows rapists to escape prison by marrying their underage victims

Morocco rape weddings 12 03 16Enlarge
Hamida Al Filali holds a poster of her sister Amina who committed suicide last week after a six-month marriage to her rapist. She was attending a sit-in protest outside the local court in Larache that approved the marriage. (Abdelhak Senna/AFP/Getty Images)

Morocco has agreed to amend a law that allows rapists to escape prison by marrying their underage victims, after a 16-year-old committed suicide.

Al Jazeera reports that Amina Al Filali from Larache near the northern city of Tangiers, drank rat poison after being severely beaten during a six-month forced marriage to her rapist.

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Her attacker had sought to escape prison by invoking article 475 of the penal code that he claimed would exonerate him if the rape victim was his wife.

This is something to which families of victims often agree to, Associated Press explains, because the loss of a woman's virginity outside of marriage is seen as a stain on the family's reputation.

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The incident sparked demonstrations led by the Democratic League for Women’s Rights, the Arab News reported. A Facebook page called 'We are all Amina Filali' was set up, along with an online petition calling for the law to be scrapped.

On Thursday, 300 protesters staged a sit-in outside the local court that had approved the marriage, according to the AFP.

A short time later, Morocco's government announced it would reform the law, Reuters said.

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"This is a painful incident ... This is an issue we can't afford to ignore," the Communication Minister and government spokesman Mustafa el-Khalfi is quoted as saying.

"She (Amina Al Filali) was raped twice - once by the rapist and the second time by marrying him. We plan harsher sentences against rapists and we will launch a debate about law 475 to reform it," he said.

Under Moroccan law, rape is punishable by five to 10 years in prison, rising to between 10 and 20 years if the victim is a minor.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/morocco/120315/morocco-amend-law-rape-marriages-after-victim-16-commits