[JURIST] The Justice and Human Rights Commission of Morocco’s parliament on Thursday announced a proposal to amend Article 475 of the penal code [text, in French], which allows rapists to avoid charges if they marry their victims. This practice is currently encouraged in countries such as Morocco and India, where the loss of a woman’s virginity out of wedlock is said to bring shame upon the family. Article 475, 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.” The proposal will be put to a vote by Parliament.
Thursday’s announcement takes place a year after the Moroccan government promised to change [JURIST report] the controversial law. Nearly a year before this promise, 16-year-old Amina al-Filali committed suicide [AFP report] after she was forced to marry her alleged rapist. Soon after, protesters in Morocco rallied to call for the reform [JURIST report] of Article 475. In July 2011 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 [JURIST report] 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].