Amina Filali: Culture of shame a victim for honour

Guest blog by By Hanane Eve Spayne -Bensalah

It is time to lift the veil of secrecy that surrounds the systematic abuse of women’s rights in Morocco North Africa. The case of Amina Filali only highlights the failure of the law that instead of protecting a person’s human rights assists a dark aged wicked tradition in further violating any sense of justice. Amina Filia (16) committed suicide by consuming rat poison in a desperate act of protest against her marriage to man that raped her a year prior.

Being of Moroccan ethnicity I am no stranger to the penal code article 475 which empowers a “kidnapper” of a minor to marry his victim to escape prosecution. In order for the honour of the family to be preserved. I first heard about this law from my mother many years ago and stories of further abuses .What shocked me the most was that their seemed to be an approval of this law in the Moroccan community. How can this be?

Misogyny is so ingrained in Moroccan culture and traditions that there are few willing to speak out. To do so means that not only do you face extreme persecution you must face being ostracised form your community. With no support network many women have no choice but to suffer in silence. Rape is often blamed upon the woman even if it is an act of violence she is considered impure.

This concept of purity which is essential in marriage may seem backwards to any enlightened society but in Morocco few men would be willing to marry a woman that was not a virgin it would be considered shameful. Not only does the rapist get away with his crime he gains an unwilling bride. A woman so beaten down not only by what she has suffered but by family members that are so fixated by this idea of honour .That they are willing to sacrifice their child’s sense of justice and any shreds of happiness that she might be able to piece together for an uncertain future.

What can be done to stop this vile practice? Firstly I do admit the law has come a long way in Morocco with the amendment to the family code 2004,yet it is simply not far enough. It is the responsibility of us that live in free nations to put pressure upon the Moroccan government to make amendments to this barbaric law. Women are literally dying to be free it is our responsibility in the west with the freedom that we have gained to be agents of change and not fear treading upon cultural sensitivities.


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