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

Moroccan women (Shutterstock)
Updated 01 March 2018

“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.

Leaked audio of Assad forces shooting elderly women in Idlib proves civilian killings: Report

Updated 25 min 52 sec ago

Leaked audio of Assad forces shooting elderly women in Idlib proves civilian killings: Report

  • Syrian regime also attacked Turkish military posts in violation of cease-fire deal

LONDON: Syrian regime forces deliberately killed elderly women in the northwestern region of Idlib, leaked recordings obtained by the UK’s Daily Telegraph have shown.

The audio recordings from Feb. 11 also suggest that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad attacked Turkish military posts in violation of a cease-fire deal.

The recordings captured a conversation between soldiers from the infamous elite Tiger Forces, the 25th Division, tracking a vehicle driving into the village of Mizanaz, to the west of Aleppo.

In the audio, intercepted by spotters at an observatory in the local area who picked up the soldiers’ frequency, one soldier can be heard saying: “There are women driving, their car is stuck in the mud and they’re headed to a battlefield.”



A second soldier said: “She looks elderly. It’s clear she’s coming to pack her belongings, then she’s leaving.”

Despite a clear identification of the women, one of the soldiers is heard saying: “I’m watching them. They’re about to enter a house. Yallah, I’m firing now.”

At that point, rapid machine gun fire can be heard on the tape. “Fire, fire, I’m observing for you,” the second soldier replies.

Local media reports from the time and date of the audio recording support the assertion that the women were killed in the attack.

Regime forces have used attacks on civilians as part of their strategy to clear rebel-held areas of the country, while attacking civilian institutions such as schools and hospitals. 

In September 2019, pro-Assad militants reportedly executed an elderly woman who refused to leave her home when it was confiscated after they recaptured the town of Khan Sheikhoun. 

According to figures from the Syrian Network for Human Rights, regime forces and their Russian allies are responsible for 90 percent of civilian deaths in the nine-year conflict, with three-quarters of those people victims of artillery or aerial shelling. The deliberate killing of non-combatants is a war crime under international law.

The Telegraph’s report also revealed recordings showing regime forces actively attacking Turkish posts in Idlib province that were set up as part of a de-escalation deal negotiated with Russia in 2018.

The attacks prompted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday to urge his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to “restrain” Assad’s advance in Idlib.