Amina’s story draws attention to Moroccan rape-marriages
Though her young life ended all too tragically, in death, Amina Filali has become the rallying point in a struggle for gender equality.
If a female minor is raped in Morocco, there is a chance she will end up marrying the perpetrator. That’s just what happened to Amina Filali, a teenager who was ordered by a court judge to wed the man that attacked her. Out of despair, Amina followed what she thought was the only escape possible from that ruling. She has not been forgotten.
Amina Filali was simply walking down the street when she was abducted and violently raped by her attacker. He was subsequently arrested for the heinous the act. She was all of 15 years old when that happened in 2011.
The criminal case then went before a judge; however, there was no trial. The assailant wound up marrying Amina. It appears there is a well-known law in Morocco, “Clause 475,” that allows a rapist to go free if the victim agrees to marry him.
She was just a child
In general, underage brides are not an anomaly in Morocco. According to The Daily Activist, a website about women’s issues, statistics indicate, “in 2010 alone, 41,000 female minors were married, a 25% increase on the previous year.”
Add to that Morocco’s overwhelmingly patriarchal culture, one that not only lacks effective domestic violence laws, but allows judges to conduct marriages of minors and it is easy to see how the atrocious “rape-marriage” phenomenon came about.
The “rape-marriage” scenario is said to restore honor to a women’s family after she has been violated outside of marriage. The truth is Amina, a mere teen, was left unprotected.
In an interview with the Daily Mail UK news service, published March 14, 2012, reporter Lee Moran quotes Amina Filali’s father, Lachen, as saying, “The court pushed the marriage, even though the perpetrator initially refused. He only consented when faced with prosecution.”
Rape carries a prison sentence of between five and ten years but increases to twenty when it involves a minor.
Lachen Filali added, “The prosecutor advised my daughter to marry, he said ‘go and make the marriage contract.’”
Tragic consequences although not forgotten
On March 10, 2012, as a response to the court ruling that ordered Amina to marry her rapist, she drank rat poison, tragically ending her life. Amina was 16. News of her death spread to Facebook and Twitter.
In a bizarre twist, one popular Moroccan newspaper had the callousness to ask Amina’s rapist to join a panel discussion regarding the topic of “improving women’s rights.” The person responsible for Amina’s rape, who remains nameless, did not attend.
Following that, outraged Moroccans started calling for changes in the law as a way of better protecting women. An online petition, created to rid the penal code of “Clause 475,” has been gaining substantial support. In the nation’s capital there have been protests outside of Parliament.
Amina Filali’s passing has given cause to a new era in the fight for gender equality in Morocco. Perhaps she’ll now rest in peace.