Abdelilah will again attract the wrath of civil society

Abdelilah will again attract the wrath of civil society

Associations for the defense of human rights and in particular children’s rights will jump to the ceiling after the recent declarations of the former head of government Abdelilah Benkirane who tried to make dangerous comparisons between individual freedoms and marriage underage girls.

After the publication of a study carried out by the prosecutor’s office which indicates that men categorized as “intellectuals” who are teachers and fqihs (imams in rural mosques) and members of the administration are those who contract the most marriages with underage girls, the Justice and Development Party (PJD), through its secretary general, made a media appearance to defend the marriage of young girls who have not reached the legal age.

Using dubious comparisons and playing on sentimentality, the head of the Moroccan government implied that the criminalization of the marriage of underage girls would be tantamount to saying that “our mothers who married before the age of 17 and 18, it was pedophilia”.

“For us, if we let the judges decide, we are not going to oppose it,” he said confidently at a party event. This approval of Benkirane is explained by the high number of marriage authorizations with minor girls granted by judges in Morocco. In nearly 70% of cases, judges grant a marriage license for minors.

According to data announced in February 2023 by Moulay El Hassan El Daki, King’s Attorney General at the Court of Cassation, around 20,097 requests for marriage authorization (mainly between an adult man and an underage girl, editor’s note) were registered in 2022 , of which only 6,445 were rejected. This indicates that 13,652 applications have been granted, representing 68% of authorizations issued.

Article 20 of the Family Code authorizes the family court judge in charge of marriage to authorize the union of minors who have not reached the legal age of 18 by a decision based on the reasons justifying such a decision, after hearing the parents of the minor or his legal representative and seeking medical expertise or conducting social research.

However, human rights organizations and the National Human Rights Council consider that this exception “has become the rule” and that certain situations of refusal cause social problems, in particular the abandonment of parents.

Criticizing the desire to decriminalize sexual relations outside marriage among consenting adults, Abdelilah Benkirane tried a comparison that will startle human rights defenders and NGOs.

Indeed, instead of condemning sexual relations between adult men and minor girls aged between 15 and 18, the former head of government preferred to use a comparison between sexual relations between two minors and sexual relations between a minor girl. and an adult man “within the legal framework”, implying that there would be no difference since in both cases, the young girl would be a minor.

“What’s special about marriage if not sex? »he asked, reducing marriage to sexual relations, which moreover, would be normal according to him, between a child and an adult man.

The Hors la loi 490 movement reacted through its social networks to respond to the former head of government by putting things in context. “In fact Benkirane wants to send to prison a 50-year-old man and a woman who have not harmed anyone, but a 60-year-old man who marries a child would be Halal and they would like us to be happy for him at his wedding party? », he wondered.

Going further in the mind-blowing comparisons, the former head of government chose to take a news item disconnected and independent of the theme addressed to challenge sexual relations outside marriage between consenting adults.

He thus cited the case of a man who allegedly discovered his wife in a pornographic video and that he dismembered and killed her. Once again, Benkirane missed the opportunity to be silent since in his comment, at no time did he condemn the killer, but implied that the victim was at fault or that she deserved what was due to her. happened because of his sexual freedom.

Abdelilah Benkirane’s statements come in the context of a debate launched on the decriminalization of sexual relations outside marriage initiated by the current government as part of an overhaul of the penal code and the family code.

On the subject of sexual relations with minors in particular, the penal code and the family code in Morocco go against the grain. On the one hand, the penal code criminalizes the sexual assault of minors, qualifying them as “indecent assault” while being liable to prison sentences, and on the other hand, the Moudawana allows families and mature men to legally marry these same minors.

These marriages with minors are more widespread in poor and rural areas, which force young girls to marry in order to no longer depend financially on their families. They also pose several problems afterwards, including dropping out of school, domestic violence often leading to divorce situations where young girls find themselves mothers and unemployed, favoring their precariousness.


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