Moreover Monday-Violence Bill proposed

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.


I can’t believe…

After attempting to try a series of blogs that are alike i.e. “the Canterbury Tales” (obviously with the ONE* post the series went really well, right?), I am now going to try a new series. The Canterbury Tales series is still a favorite idea of mine- but after attempting to write three or four posts I find myself waiting to actually post the blog because I want to add more details.

Take our mudir (director of the Dar Chabab), for example, he is such an animated and wonderful character! His antics are what make our day-to-day at the Dar Chabab not so mundane and dreary. He often calls and says… “Who are you?” , “Who is this?” (keep in mind, HE is calling ME) and I usually respond with “No One” and then he will ask, “Is this Tyler’s wife?” to which I usually say “No, Tyler left”. He chuckles and then gets on with the point of the phone call with the characteristic Moroccan phrase “Agh, shuf” (Translation: “Agh, look”) and then usually tells me to tell Tyler something. Anyway, the point is… the people in our life are so difficult to write just ONE* post about. The people with whom we interact have left such a big imprint on our lives, its like giving them a eulogy of sorts when we are still interacting with them on a regular basis! So, I still want to share all of those people with you- but I will have to figure out a different way.

ONWARD to a new idea….

“I can’t believe…..”

 I can’t take credit for the idea, I got it from one my favorite blogs that I follow (is 50 emails/day of other people’s blogs too much? I might be a little obsessed). But “I can’t believe…” posts are small little nibblies that will allow me to post some things on a regular basis without it having to be a million years long! SO…. here we go!

“I can’t believe…..”

“I can’t believe…..” that we have been here for more than a year. It is taking quite awhile for this idea to sink in. It seems like I had been waiting for this forever and then now it is here and I find myself saying… “WAIT! We only have a year left, that’s not enough time!”

“I can’t believe…..” that there is no rain in the forecast for the next week!!!! I wrote about about these last two things in my last post- BUT* that is how much I cannot believe them!!!!!!!!!!!! It is such a weird feeling being able to do laundry whenever we want!!! 

“I can’t believe…..” that these chickpea samosas I made last week were SO incredible! Tyler loved them- which means a LOT! And except for the whole frying thing- the ingredients, because I substituted mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower-are fairly healthy!photo

I (still) can’t believe…..” that in the center of town, every night there is a small little carnival. This carnival is for the little kids of Larache and includes those motorized Barbie and tractor cars, balloons, popcorn and PONIES! PONIES!!!! I kid you not! And do you know how those ponies get there? Their owners ride their bikes as the ponies jog along side them. Again, THERE ARE PONIES!

“I can’t believe…..” that I am drinking Hazelnut coffee this morning. It adds a whole new flavor to the day! Don’t tell me, I already know that pretty punny! Thank you for the deliciousness, Mama and Papa Duff!!!!!

“I can’t believe…..” that President Obama felt it was necessary to comment on a colleague’s appearance. And as a double…“I can’t believe…..” that people *ahem male senators/pundits* comment and essentially say that it is not that big of a deal. Okay, when commenting on a woman’s looks in a professional setting does not diminish her in ANY way professionally, we will talk. When considering women in the public eye and it has NOTHING to do with her makeup, outfits and how “fit” her arms might be….. then we will talk. But for now because people find the need to comment on those aspects, as if somehow they have anything to do with her intelligence or competence for a job, then those comments are disrespectful and absolutely unnecessary. This is all REGARDLESS of the fact that he is the president and he made the comment in incredibly public forum.

“I can’t believe…..” that we have the pleasure of knowing so many wonderful people here in Larache, including my wonderful tutor. My tutor is not only a great teacher but also the founder of the online news journal, He works incredibly hard to make sure that the important issues are reported on, including those that live in extreme poverty here in Larache. Here is a link to a very touching video of a man who lives in the poorer part of Larache. In the video, the man talks about how his house is only 2 m by 2 m but how he still has a big enough heart to include a rabbit, birds and a cat into his family of 4 children and his wife.

Well, that’s all for the day!

Be kind to your neighbors!