Protesters in Morocco rallied Saturday to call for reform of a law that prohibits punishing rapists of minors if they marry their victims. Moroccan Penal Code [text, French] Article 475, along with provisions that allow judges to require marriage in situations of rape, has been the subject of harsh criticism since a minor was forced to marry her rapist and subsequently committed suicide [AFP report]. The article, translated from French, reads:
When a minor removed or diverted married her captor, the latter can not be prosecuted on the complaint of persons entitled to apply for annulment of marriage and can not be sentenced until after the cancellation of marriage has been pronounced.This section has been used to exonerate rapists who marry their victims after the fact, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the marriage.
Last July Moroccan voters overwhelmingly approved a revised version of the constitution [JURIST report], highlighted by fewer powers reserved for their king. The constitutional revisions were a product of a reform process announced last April following peaceful demonstrations [JURIST reports] demanding democratic reforms as part of the wider protests in the Middle East and North Africa [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive].