Moreover Monday-Violence Bill proposed

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131204/morocco-islamists-under-fire-over-women-abuse-bill

Morocco Islamists under fire over women abuse bill

A long-awaited law to combat violence against women is currently under study in Morocco, but the Islamist-led government has had to revise its proposals after sharp criticism from rights groups.

A preliminary version of the bill, which is still in the drafting stage, threatens prison sentences of up to 25 years for perpetrators of violence against women.

In addition, the bill would take unprecedented steps towards criminalising sexual harassment, with those convicted risking possible three-year jail terms.

As in numerous other Arab countries, sexual harassment of women is commonplace in Morocco, despite the adoption of a new constitution in 2011 that enshrines gender equality and urges the state to promote it.

But despite the progress that this new law would represent, women’s associations have strongly criticised the proposed legislation.

In particular, they accuse Bassima Hakkaoui, the minister for women’s affairs — herself a member of the ruling Islamist Party of Justice and Development — of excluding them from the drafting of the bill.

“We have waited for years for this law and we are now very disappointed by its content,” said Najat Errazi, who heads the Moroccan Association for Women’s Rights, speaking in Casablanca at a meeting to discuss the bill.

According to a study published by the state planning commission (HCP) this week, nearly nine percent of women in Morocco have been physically subjected to sexual violence at least once.

Sexual violence of a physical or psychological nature has affected some 25 percent of women overall, and a startling 40 percent among 18- to 24-year-olds.

Last year, Hakkaoui acknowledged the problem by stating that six million women have suffered physical or verbal violence, more than half inflicted by their husbands.

Sara Soujar, another activist speaking at the meeting in Casablanca, argued that the bill fails to include provisions relating to single women.

“This category is totally absent… Reading the text, you get the impression that violence basically only affects married or divorced women, even though others may be more exposed,” she said.

Her concerns resonate with the findings of the HCP study, that around one in every two unmarried women in Morocco was subjected to sexual violence — whether physical or verbal — during the year that it was carried out.

“Young women who work in factories or as housemaids, many of whom are minors, are no less exposed,” Soujar said.

Others criticise the draft law for lacking clarity, noting that it deals with sexual violence against women and children in the same clauses.

In the face of these objections, the government has been forced to set up a committee, headed by Islamist Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, to review the draft law and demonstrate its willingness to cooperate.

Progress is being closely followed in Morocco, where many have had traumatic personal experiences of a kind that the proposed legislation is designed to deter.

Last weekend, dozens of people gathered outside parliament in Rabat to denounce “all forms of violence against women”, among them members of civil society groups as well as relatives of the victims.

“The ex-husband of my daughter used to beat her every day. It was like torture,” one victim’s father told AFP with tears in his eyes.

“On the day that he learnt she was going to ask for a divorce he killed her,” the man added, holding close to him pictures of the injuries inflicted on his daughter.

On Monday, two teenage girls who were sexually assaulted in Rabat finally saw their aggressors jailed for four years for attempting to drug and rape them.

Many considered the verdict too lenient.

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Moreover Monday-Sexual Harassment in Morocco

This is one of the first articles that I have seen addressing this epidemic in Morocco. One wonders though, how will this new law be implemented? How long will it be until the perpetrators are really punished?

Sexual harassment in Morocco: perpetrators could get up to 4 years in jail

Sunday 3 November 2013 – 16:32
Assya B. Moussaid
Miss Assya B. Moussaid obtained her BA in Human Relations, from Concordia university with a minor in Human resources management. She has a Diploma in advertising & marketing from the International Academy of design. You can Follow her on Twitter …

This is especially great news for the women in Morocco, and even for men who are infuriated by the harassment their sisters, wives or even mothers have to endure.

This new law, drafted by the Ministry of Solidarity and Social Development and the Ministry of Justice and Liberties, aims to reduce the violence against women, and considers as sexual harassment any action or advances against a third party through acts, words or gestures of a sexual nature, or any attempts to reach a sexual act.

The offender will be faced with a jail sentence ranging from one month to two years, and/or a 1000dh to 3000dh fine.

The sentence could be doubled, reaching up to 4 years in prison if the offense is committed by a colleague at the workplace or by a public sector employee responsible for ensuring the order and safety of citizens.

Another section of this law underlines the punishment of any author of sexual videos- a disturbing phenomenon that has been thriving on technology and social media in particular.

GLOW-Gender Day!!!!!

So, on Gender Day we were on our second full day of camp! It seemed pretty surreal at this point, the camp was going- and going well!!!!! Of course, the girls still stayed up all night to chat, sleep in each other’s beds and talk on their phones but* they were becoming closer and closer!

Gender Day was one of the most important days for me to have at the camp. I wanted them to realize how special it is to be a woman. How many advantages they have, versus a lot of the disadvantages that they might see, that they truly have the power to change things BECAUSE of their gender and not in spite of it.

We started the day off with exercise, of course!

Then some fabulous teambuilding!

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this icebreaker became a favorite and was done at least ten times per day

Then we had workshops with these two fabulous ladies!!!!

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These ladies also deserve more recognition than just doing some amazing workshops on Gender day, because they are some of the reasons that the camp even happened!!!! During the planning time, they were available to translate anything and everything, and also provide feedback. I don’t know if I can ever truly express how humbling it is to,literally, not be able to write. Morocco is a very bureaucratic country and often our mudir wants the documents he has to turn in to be perfect. But, we can’t provide any of it! Especially because our computer separates the Arabic letters if we try to type it in a Word document. Our assistant mudir has an email, but I have to type a message in google translate (that is most definitely wrongly translated) and hope that it at least says some* of the right things. This makes the process of getting anything done 3 to 4 times longer than it should (it also means about 1000 hours of printing new documents out). These two were there for us throughout the entire week to help out with anything we needed, but they were there months before that making the camp happen from a distance. My gratitude towards them is never ending. Then to add to it- they presented some pretty fab workshops….

A workshop about the Mudawana Code (which is the family code written by the government) which includes clauses about divorce, inheritance, marriage, kids etc. etc.

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And then a Sexual Harassment Workshop

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Then of course we had art time!!! For art time the girls worked on “Stop Sexual Harassment Signs”

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Our workshop at night was on self-development and presented by a wonderful woman who works with a women’s association here in Larache.

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This was also the day that it felt like the girls were becoming a cohesive unit because of all the time that they had been spending together… this resulted in our first “wedding” of the camp…

409and continuous singing during meals- don’t ask me how they ate and sang the entire time during meals but they did! What can I say? These were some fabulous ladies!!!!

a video of these shenanigans would be here- if I had better technology skills (SORRY*)

One of the most interesting aspects about the concept of a Gender Day is, the word for gender in Arabic is the same work for sex. This is confusing especially when my counterpart becomes extremely bashful when she sees on the schedule that she is doing a “Sex Workshop” when the meaning is supposed to be “Gender workshop” (completely understandable!). I know in English it is a fairly new concept to treat gender as an entity and sex as an entity, but throughout my lifetime they have been two different ideas and always been presented as such. At first, I did not understand the confusion and still struggle with attempting to explain the difference when it is the same word.

All in all though- Gender Day was a complete success!!!! I hope the girls learned that they are special and unique because of their gender and it is important to be a woman and speak out!