Amina Filali, a 16-year-old Moroccan girl, killed herself this week after being forced to marry her rapist, who beat her, the Associated Press reports. The case has sparked outrage in Morocco’s online community, which is calling for change in the country’s laws for women.
“Many girls have been in this [situation], but it took this tragedy to mobilize popular opinion!” wrote a Facebook page calling itself “We are all Amina Filali.” “Because we do not want raped women to be forced to marry their executioner to preserve the family honor, and because the law should be changed, organize a sit-in to demand justice!”
In many Arab-majority countries, the loss of a girl’s virginity outside of marriage—even in cases of rape— can be seen as a stain of honor on the family and the girl. The family’s honor can often be restored if she marries her rapist.
Filali’s father said in an interview with online Moroccan newspaper goud.ma that the court officials themselves had suggested the marriage option after Amina’s family reported the rape. Amina is believed to have been first accosted on the street and raped when she was 15.
“The prosecutor advised my daughter to marry, he said ‘go and make the marriage contract,’” Lahcen Filali said in the interview.
The perpetrator initially refused to marry Amina, but consented when faced with prosecution and up to 20 years in prison, Filali said.
“If a girl does not want you, rape her!” Layla Belmahi, a Moroccan woman who calls herself a revolutionary, wrote on Twitter. “Key to the marriage provided.”
Au Maroc, si une fille ne veut pas de vous, violez-la ! Mariage à la clé assuré. #RIPAmina— Layla Belmahi (@LaylaBelma) March 13, 2012
After the marriage, Amina told her mother on several occasions that her husband was beating her, according to Filali. But her mother had advised her daughter to be patient. When it got to be too much, Amina swallowed rat poison, a common form of suicide in some parts of the world.
According to the Moroccan penal code, the “kidnapper” of a minor is allowed to marry his victim to escape prosecution — a code that can be translated to apply to rapists as well. Abdelaziz Nouaydi, who runs the Adala Association for legal reform, told the AP that this kind of case is rare, but that a judge can recommend marriage as long as the victim, rapist and both families agree.
An online petition created Tuesday called RIP Amina has garnered nearly 2,000 signatures. The petition calls for the penal code to be changed, saying “the woman raped is the victim” and that she “should be able to get real legal and psychological... support if she needs it.” Amina, the petition said, would be the last girl to endure the practice of marrying her rapist.
On Twitter, WomanChoufouch, which calls itself the first Moroccan movement against sexual harassment, tweeted that there was no question about whether to be silent after what happened to Amina.
Bonjour à toutes et à tous, Il n'est plus question de nous taire après ce qu'il vient d'arriver à Amina Filali,... fb.me/1MWQfG8sd— Woman Choufouch (@WomanChoufouch) March 14, 2012
“Saturday, noon at Parliament. Do not keep silent. Be numerous and be many,” the group wrote.
More world news coverage: