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Morocco: Update to MAR38793.E of 11 April 2002 and MAR42447.FE of 1 March 2004 on the protection available to female victims of violence committed by their husbands or by male members of their family (fathers, brothers, etc.) (2003-May 2004)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 27 May 2004
Citation / Document Symbol MAR42682.FE
Reference 1
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Morocco: Update to MAR38793.E of 11 April 2002 and MAR42447.FE of 1 March 2004 on the protection available to female victims of violence committed by their husbands or by male members of their family (fathers, brothers, etc.) (2003-May 2004) , 27 May 2004, MAR42682.FE , available at: [accessed 7 October 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Several sources consulted indicated that domestic violence is a common problem in Moroccan society (BBC 28 Mar. 2002; Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 5; Meknès-net 11 Mar. 2004; MERIA Sept. 2003) and that the situation is getting worse (Le Matin 10 May 2004). Arabic News reported that between 30 and 40 per cent of women admitted to hospital emergency wards in Casablanca are victims of domestic violence (20 Apr. 2004). The same source indicated that 7 out of 10 women in Fez are victims of violence and that 5 out of 10 do not file reports (Arabic News 10 Mar. 2003). A UNICEF survey showed that 44 per cent of Moroccan men beat their wives and that 74 per cent of victims do not file complaints (Meknès-net 11 Mar. 2004).

Legal protection

The Moroccan Criminal Code provides for less severe punishments for men who commit crimes against their wives than for men who abuse other women (Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 5). An article published by the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) stated that "the fact that spousal violence is treated at worst with utmost leniency discourages most women from reporting acts of violence to the authorities" (Sept. 2003).

According to Country Reports 2003, there is still no law that specifically prohibits family violence in Morocco (25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 5). For more information on the family code, or Moudawana, please consult MAR42447.FE of 1 March 2004.

Country Reports 2003 stated that "[a]lthough a battered wife had the right to file a complaint with the police, as a practical matter she would do so only if prepared to bring criminal charges" (25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 5). To obtain a divorce on the grounds of physical abuse, a woman has to prove the crime; if the court is not satisfied, she is returned to her husband's home (Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 5). Few women, therefore, report abuses to the legal authorities (ibid.). An article published on the Website reported that legal proceedings take much too long, discouraging women who are prepared to file complaints ( 12 Mar. 2004). According to sources, a woman must produce 12 witnesses to prove that she was abused, but the violence usually occurs in private (ibid.; Meknès-net 11 Mar. 2004). Country Reports 2003, however, indicated that a minimum of two witnesses is required (25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 5).

In an article published in La Vie éco, the Chair of the Casablanca Family Court, Abdelhak Draider, expressed his opinion that lawyers are still unaware of the provisions set out in the new Family Code (14 May 2004). The president of the Spring of Equality (Printemps de l'égalité) collective stated that, in general, judges are still against the new provisions of the Moudawana, which foster greater equality between men and women (La Vie éco 14 May 2004).

A survey conducted by the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women (Association démocratique des femmes du Maroc, ADFM) in June 2000 indicated that more than 28 per cent of respondents did not believe that the law protects battered women (Meknès-net 11 Mar. 2004).

Another survey, conducted by the Women Information and Observation Center and the Democratic League for Women's Rights, "gave 133 recommendations to fight violence . . . against women and fill in some gaps in the new provisions of the Mudawana" (Arabic News 20 Apr. 2004).

Police protection :

Little information on police protection in cases of violence against women could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. The Meknès-net Website indicated that [translation] "police and legal authorities are often helpless against an evil that is implicitly tolerated by society" (11 Mar. 2004). A survey conducted by Initiatives for Women's Rights Protection (IDPF) indicated that "illiteracy, unemployment, shame, lack of family solidarity and rigidity of the family law contribute to [the silence of abused women]. . . . 43.7% of the victims keep silent about such acts while . . . [only] 2.7% go to the police" (Arabic News 10 Mar. 2003). According to the president of Women's Solidarity (Solidarité féminine), people do not normally call the police when they discover that a woman is being abused because [translation] "they are not sure whether the police will intervene" (Emarrakech 7 Mar. 2002).

Protection offered by other governmental organizations :

The first call centre for battered women in Morocco was established in 1995 (Le Matin 10 May 2004).

In November 2003, the Secretary of State for Family Affairs, Solidarity and Social Action, in cooperation with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), held a workshop in Rabat on fighting violence against women (Maroc Hebdo International 14-20 Nov. 2003). A report published by CIDA named the Secretary of State's lack of human and financial resources, the weak relationships between organizations that deal with family and social affairs and matters of national cooperation, and [translation] "the failure to recognize the status of social workers" as obstacles in fighting violence against women in Morocco (ibid.). It is worth noting that, according to Emarrakech, social workers cannot enter a home without the permission of the public prosecutor (7 Mar. 2003). In December 2003, the Secretary of State announced a new strategy to fight violence against women (Arabic News 8 Dec. 2003).

According to one source, the government needs to explain the provisions of the new Moudawana, which came into effect shortly after its publication on 5 February 2004, because [translation] "the call centres and women's rights associations have been 'flooded' with questions since the new law came into force" (La Vie éco 14 May 2004).

Protection offered by non-governmental organizations:

During the workshop organized by the Secretary of State for Family Affairs, Solidarity and Social Action, several call centres for battered women introduced programs focussed mainly on putting victims in contact with lawyers, psychiatrists and sociologists who can help them boost their self-esteem (Maroc Hebdo International 14-20 Nov. 2003). Another strategy consists of encouraging women to file complaints with the authorities to protect themselves and their children (ibid.). The Centre for Counselling, Legal Advice and Psychological Support for Battered Women (Centre d'écoute et d'orientation juridique et de soutien psychologique pour femmes victimes de la violence), in association with the Moroccan women's movement (represented by Spring for Equality), is lobbying for the implementation of legislation that would protect women against all forms of violence (Aujourd'hui le Maroc 21 July 2003).

The Nejma training, information and legal assistance centre at the ADFM headquarters helped 600 women in 2001 and 1,700 in 2004 (La Vie éco 14 May 2004). The call centre of the association the Third Millennium for Development (Troisième Millénaire pour le développement) in Errachidia reported an increase in the number of women who had contacted it ( 12 Mar. 2004). For example, the centre handled 145 cases in 2002-2003, compared with 284 cases reported in 2003-2004, as of March 2004 (ibid.). According to the coordinator of the centre, many women who turn to the centre find it difficult to talk about their pain; they end up reconciling with their husbands and refuse to divorce them (ibid.). The coordinator also said that [translation] "it is hard to convince [women] that they are victims and that they should file complaints" (ibid.). Approximately 80 per cent of the women who seek help through the centre have been abused by their husbands, while 19.3 per cent have been victimized by another member of their family (ibid.).

The Ennakhil association in Marrakech receives female victims of domestic violence, but it cannot open a shelter for those whose lives are at risk because their husbands could then file charges against the association (Meknès-net 11 Mar. 2004).

On 1 May 2004, the ADFM "announced the creation of a nationwide network of support centers for women victims of violence" (Arabic News 1 May 2004). "The network will facilitate collecting, analysing and spreading information on violence against women" (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References 12 March 2004. Olivia Marsaud. "Marocaines en détresse : La violence conjugale au quotidien." [Accessed 18 May 2004]

Arabic News. 1 May 2004. "Moroccan NGO Sets Up Nationwide Support Centers for Women Victims of Violence." [Accessed 18 May 2004]

_____. 20 April 2004. "Between 30 to 40 Percent of Women in Casablanca Emergencies are Victims of Domestic Violence, Study." [Accessed 18 May 2004]

_____. 8 December 2003. "Morocco Sets Strategy to Fight Violence Against Women." [Accessed 18 May 2004]

_____. 10 March 2003. "Fez City: 7 Women out of 10 Victim of Violence, Survey." [Accessed 18 May 2004]

Aujourd'hui le Maroc [Casablanca]. 21 July 2003. Belkacem Amenzou. "Combattre la violence à l'égard des femmes." [Accessed 19 May 2004]

BBC. 28 March 2002. "The King and the Sheikh's Daughter." [Accessed 18 May 2004]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003. 25 February 2004. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 18 May 2004]

Emarrakech. 7 March 2002. Tarik Essaadi. "Les femmes battues au Maroc face à la loi du silence." [Accessed 19 May 2004]

Maroc Hebdo International [Casablanca]. No. 580. 14-20 November 2003. Chifaâ Nassir. "La plaie sociale." [Accessed 18 May 2004]

Le Matin [Casablanca]. 10 May 2004. Narjis Rerhaye. "Partenariat entre Amnesty International et Barid Al Maghrib : le timbre de la réconciliation." [Accessed 19 May 2004]

Meknès-net. 11 March 2004. Rouane El Mahjoub. "Les violences conjugales face à la loi du silence : de quel droit bat-on son épouse?" [Accessed 18 May 2004]

Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) [Herzliya, Israel]. September 2003. Vol. 7, No. 3. Michael M. Laskier. "A Difficult Inheritance: Moroccan Society Under King Muhammad VI." [Accessed 18 May 2004]

La Vie éco [Casablanca]. 14 May 2004. Jaouad Mdidech. "La nouvelle moudawana, trois mois après ... ." [Accessed 19 May 2004]

Additional Sources Consulted

Attempts to contact the following organizations were unsuccessful:

– Comité des femmes marocaines pour le développement

– Democratic Association of Moroccan Women

– Democratic League for Women's Rights in Morocco

– Moroccan Association for Women's Rights

– Moroccan Human Rights Association

– Moroccan Human Rights Organization

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International (AI), European Country of Origin Information Network (ECOI), L'Économiste, Freedom House, La Gazette du Maroc, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Le Journal de Tanger, Libération, Maghreb Arabe Presse, Les Nouvelles du Nord, Tel Quel, World News Connection (WNC)

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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