Women's Rights in Morocco
An invitation to Rabat, Morocco, from Global Rights, Partners for Justice marked The Advocates’ first involvement in the continent of Africa. The Kingdom of Morocco is a constitutional monarchy and is currently ruled by His Majesty King Muhammad VI. Though the King has committed the country to human rights reforms, some obstacles to preventing and prosecuting acts of violence include: a family law system that until recently provided more rights in marriage and divorce to men than to women; unwillingness of law enforcement to interfere in disputes considered family matters; a high illiteracy rate in the general population; and distrust of the legal system.
Cheryl Thomas, Director of the Women's Program, traveled to Fez, Morocco in October of 2008 to present at a workshop entitled Promoting a Law on Violence Against Women in Morocco. Participants at the workshop were representatives of women’s advocacy groups from around the country who are providing direct services to victims of violence and working on advocacy and awareness campaigns to lay the groundwork for a new domestic violence law in Morocco.
The two-day workshop included discussions about model domestic violence laws and policies from around the world, highlights of civil and criminal legal reform efforts on domestic violence from other countries, and Morocco’s current laws relevant to violence against women. The culmination of the workshop was a simulated presentation to a panel of Moroccan parliamentarians (portrayed by the workshop presenters) of a new domestic violence law. Participants were asked to write five important provisions of a new law and support them in a presentation to Parliament.
In January of 2009, Cheryl Thomas traveled again to Morocco, with Robin Phillips, Executive Director, State Representative Michael Paymar, and Board Member Marlene Kayser. The team presented a training on best practices in laws on violence against women as part of a two-day training program for women’s NGOs throughout Morocco to build their legislative advocacy skills. They also met with members of the Moroccan Parliament.
These trainings were an integral piece of a campaign by Global Rights to promote a law against domestic violence in Morocco. Such a law will be the first of its kind in Morocco. The women’s NGOs are committed to leading the Arab world on law reform on violence against women. They have begun a public education campaign and are working to enact a new law within twelve months. The Advocates was privileged to share its experience in legal reform on domestic violence with these dedicated Moroccan women’s rights activists.
For more information about Morocco, visit the country page on www.stopvaw.org, which was written in consultation with our partner at Global Rights.
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