Thursday, March 15, 2012

475 Reasons Not to Marry Your Rapist

Women protesting in Morocco (Reuters)

In 2011, Amina Filali, a then 15 year old, was raped by Mustafa Fallaq, a man a decade older than she was. Here's his photo, from Al Arabiya:

Mustafa Fallaq, rapist.
(Still photo taken from Morocco's 2MTV video coverage)

Amina's family initially tried to do right by her. They went to the police in Larache, a village near Tangiers, and reported the crime. Mustafa, that charmer, could have done 10-20 years if convicted because Amina was a minor. (The age of consent, even to marry, in Morocco is 18.) But hey, you know, raping a girl is like raping her family. Rather than ruining the family's honor, the prosecutor in this case invoked Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code, which allows a man to marry his victim rather than being convicted and going to jail. Because, after all, justice for rape victims is to live with the tender, loving soul that raped them... for the rest of their lives.

Amina's family gave her in marriage to Mustafa, who, since Amina had brought him all this negative attention, proceeded to beat her, starve her, no doubt rape her some more. She went back to her family to report her mistreatment at the hands of her husband and this time her father reportedly disowned her.  Finally, this past Saturday, Amina had had enough. After a particularly bad beating day, she drank rat poison, and while she was dying, her husband dragged her by her hair through the streets, beating her some more for her temerity in saying she'd had enough.

As the Washington Post notes, the women of Morocco are not standing silent. You can join the Facebook group Nous Sommes Tous Amina Filali (We Are All Amina Filali) in support of putting an end to this barbaric practice being an option in the Moroccan penal system. You can sign a petition, RIP Amina, here

Lest we think only Morocco is bad in their treatment of rape victims, let's not forget Gulnaz, the Afghani woman who was imprisoned after a brutal rape by her cousin's husband, for "forced adultery". Sentenced to twelve years in prison, Gulnaz was finally pardoned, after much international pressure, by Afghan president Hamid Karzai after two years, but has felt continued pressure to marry her rapist. She may in fact have done so, as her family reportedly wanted to kill her for their "loss of honor."

I know I said that there would be 475 reasons, but really I could come up with only one reason not to marry your rapist. He raped you.

And I have to go on record saying that I like Morocco and have had wonderful experiences traveling, hiking and exploring in the country. The idea that the same country I know and love, a country that has so many modern aspects when it comes to women's rights, has a medieval law like Article 475 on the books is just appalling to me. I hope it is to you, too. 

WomanShouFouch, a women's rights group, is trying to organize a protest at the parliament building on Saturday. Or they were.

“Saturday, noon at Parliament. Do not keep silent. Be numerous and be many,”

the group wrote according to the Post, on a now deleted Facebook posting.

Perhaps, as in the case of Gulnaz, international pressure will help the women of Morocco get rid of this terrible threat to their mental health and safety after the trauma of rape. Perhaps Amina Filali's short, tragic life will not have been completely in vain.

And Mustafa, I hope women all over the globe spread your photo.... I'm doing my part.

© Bright Nepenthe, 2012

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