“Bittersweet victory” for Moroccan women facing domestic violence, activists say

Moroccan women (Shutterstock)
Updated 01 March 2018
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“Bittersweet victory” for Moroccan women facing domestic violence, activists say

BEIRUT: A hotly-debated new law aimed at protecting women in Morocco against domestic violence does not go far enough, said women’s rights activists who have campaigned for reform for years.
The law passed in the Muslim country earlier this month criminalizes “harassment, aggression, sexual exploitation or ill treatment of women,” according to the women’s ministry.
But it failed to define domestic violence or explicitly outlaw marital rape said Rothna Begum, Middle East women’s rights researcher for Human Rights Watch.
“While Morocco is going out of its way to pat itself on the back, they need to take far more reform to protect all women from violence,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
By criminalizing forced marriage and the expulsion of a spouse from the home, the law is a “bittersweet victory” for activists in Morocco who have been pushing for reforms for more than a decade, she added.
Sexual harassment and abuse of women is rife in Morocco where a national survey found that nearly two-thirds of women had experienced physical, psychological, sexual or economic abuse.
A video of a young woman being sexually assaulted by a gang of teenage boys on a bus in Casablanca last year sparked outrage in the country.
Saadia Wadah, a women’s rights lawyer and activist based in Casablanca said that the law is a “positive” step forward, despite its “gaps and flaws.”
In pushing through reform, Morocco follows Tunisia, which passed its own law protecting women against violence last year, but other Arab countries like Egypt, Kuwait, and Yemen have yet to do so, said Begum.
The law allows for protection orders that prohibit an accused person from contacting or approaching a victim during or after criminal prosecutions.
Stephanie Willman, co-founder of Mobilising for Rights Associates, a women’s rights group, said this was “terrible.”
“Women shouldn’t have to file criminal charges to get a protection order,” she said by phone from the capital, Rabat.
“Most women who are victims of violence in Morocco will be left unprotected because of this.”
Few women file criminal cases against abusive spouses and most are dropped because of family pressure or financial dependence on their abusers, HRW said.


Up to 85,000 children ‘dead of starvation or disease in Yemen’

Updated 32 min 50 sec ago
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Up to 85,000 children ‘dead of starvation or disease in Yemen’

  • As many as 85,000 infants under the age of five may have died from starvation or disease since 2015
  • The UN has warned that up to 14 million people are at risk of famine in Yemen

DUBAI: As many as 85,000 infants under the age of five may have died from starvation or disease since 2015 in war-ravaged Yemen, humanitarian organization Save the Children said Wednesday.
It said the estimate was based on data compiled by the United Nations, which has warned that up to 14 million people are at risk of famine in Yemen.
“Dozens are starving to death and it’s entirely preventable,” said Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s country director in Yemen.
“Children who die in this way suffer immensely as their vital organ functions slow down and eventually stop,” he said.
“Their immune systems are so weak they are more prone to infections with some too frail to even cry. Parents are having to witness their children wasting away, unable to do anything about it.”
Meanwhile, UN envoy Martin Griffiths prepares to hold talks with the Houthis in the capital Sanaa during a visit aimed at laying the groundwork for peace talks in Sweden.