Rape and Domestic Violence: The law punishes men convicted of rape with prison terms of five to 10 years; when the conviction involves a minor, the prison sentence ranges from 10 to 20 years. Sexual assault can result in a prison sentence of up to one year and a fine of 15,000 dirhams ($1,797). The government generally enforced the law; however, spousal rape is not a crime, and various domestic advocacy groups, such as the Democratic League for Women’s Rights (LDDF), reported that in eight of 10 cases of violence against women, the perpetrator was the husband.
Women’s rights organizations pointed to numerous articles of the laws pertaining to rape that they saw as perpetuating unequal treatment for women and insufficient protection despite family law revisions. Sexual assaults often were unreported.
The number of instances of rape in the country was not available at year’s end, but the government reported it had investigated 506 cases in 2010 and 278 cases in 2009. A 2009-10 national survey by the government’s agency for statistics and forecasts found that nearly half of women were victims of psychological violence; one in six were affected by physical violence, and approximately 8 percent suffered from sexual violence. According to the survey, 35.3 percent reported having been subjected to physical violence at least once since the age of 18, and 23.9 percent of women ages 18-64 reported undergoing a form of physical or sexual violence in 2009. Marital violence was the most common form of violence reported. The government indicated that it expected a rise in reported incidents of violence as supporting social services became more available.
The law does not specifically prohibit domestic violence against women, but the general prohibitions of the criminal code address such violence. High-level misdemeanors occur when the victim suffers injuries that result in 20 days of disability from work. Low-level misdemeanors occur for victims who suffer disability for less than 20 days. NGOs reported that the courts rarely prosecuted perpetrators of low-level misdemeanors.
Physical abuse was legal grounds for divorce, although few women reported abuse to authorities, and most victims of domestic violence preferred to mediate the problem within the family. Women choosing the justice route preferred pursuing divorce in family courts rather than police prosecutions.
The law is lenient toward husbands who commit crimes against their wives. Police rarely became involved in domestic disputes. Several women’s NGOs reported that often laws are not enforced due to societal pressures not to break up a family and to the conservative mentality of some police and court officials.
The government operated hotlines for victims of domestic violence. A small number of groups such as the Anaruz Network and LDDF were also available to provide assistance and guidance to victims. Counseling centers existed exclusively in urban areas, and services for victims of violence in rural areas were generally limited to local police. Women’s shelters were not authorized under the law, but a few NGOs made efforts to make shelter for victims of domestic abuse available. Courts have “victims of abuse cells” that bring together prosecutors, lawyers, judges, women’s NGOs, and hospital personnel to review domestic and child abuse cases, ensure proper procedure is followed, and determine the best interest of the woman or child.
Many domestic NGOs worked to advance women’s rights and promote women’s issues. Among these were the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women, Union for Women’s Action, LDDF, and Moroccan Association for Women’s Rights. All advocated enhanced political and civil rights for women. NGOs also promoted literacy and taught women basic hygiene, family planning, and child care.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment in the workplace is a criminal offense, but only when committed by a superior, and it is defined as an abuse of authority. Authorities did not effectively enforce laws against sexual harassment. According to the government, although the law allows victims to sue employers, only a few did so, since most feared losing their job as a result or worried about the difficulty of proving the violation.
Reproductive Rights: Contraception is legal, and most forms were widely available. Individuals and couples were able to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children and had the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. The Ministry of Health ran two programs: one with mobile clinics providing maternal and child health and family planning services in remote rural areas, and the other involving systematic home visits to encourage the use of contraception and provide family planning and primary health-care services. In practice NGOs reported that women often faced obstacles in obtaining emergency contraception from pharmacies. Skilled attendance at delivery and postpartum care were available for women who could afford it, with approximately 63 percent of overall births attended by skilled health personnel. The most recent UN statistics showed that there were approximately 110 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in the country in 2008 and that 52 percent of women ages 15-49 used a modern method of contraception in 2010. The major factors influencing maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence rates were female illiteracy, lack of knowledge about availability of services, cost of services, and transportation to health centers and hospitals for those in rural areas.
Discrimination: The constitution provides women equal rights with men in civil, political, economic, cultural, and environmental affairs--an improvement from the previous constitution, which provided only political equality. The constitution created a new body to monitor gender equality issues, the Authority for Equality and the Fight against all Forms of Discrimination.
Numerous problems related to discrimination against women remained. Women’s inheritances, which are determined by Sharia (Islamic law) for Muslims, vary depending on circumstances, but are less than those of men. Under Islamic law, daughters receive half of what their brothers receive, and if a woman is the only child, she receives half and other relatives receive the other half. A sole male heir would receive the entire estate. Inheritance laws were not changed during the reform of the family code and were not specifically addressed in the new constitution.
According to two Ministry of Interior decrees from 1995 and 2004, women are entitled to their share of collective lands, which make up one-third of the country’s territory. While ministry decrees carry the force of law, implementation has met considerable local resistance from men. Despite considerable lobbying by women’s NGOs, enforcement of these property laws remained inconsistent. However, the efforts of such NGOs prompted the Ministry of Interior to publish new circulars--which do not carry the force of law--in 2009 and 2010 that further pressed for local enforcement of women’s collective lands rights. The government followed up with training for local authorities on the implementation of the land allocation process. Women’s NGOs reported that the situation improved over the course of the year but wanted the government to codify their rights in formal legislation.
The 2004 family code (Moudawana) changed the marriage age for women from 15 to 18 years, placed the family under the joint responsibility of both spouses, and rescinded the wife’s duty of obedience to her husband. The Moudawana removed the requirement for woman to have a marital tutor as a condition of marriage, made divorce available by mutual consent, and placed legal limits on polygamy.
Implementation of the controversial family law remained a concern because it is largely dependent on the judiciary’s willingness to enforce it, and many judges did not agree with it. Corruption among working-level court clerks and a lack of knowledge about its provisions among lawyers were also obstacles to greater enforcement of the law.
There were few legal obstacles to women’s participation in business and other economic activities; however, the rate of participation in the formal labor force was only 28 percent. In practice women were not represented in leadership positions in trade unions. The majority of women were illiterate, and a typical working woman earned 25 percent of what a man earned. Women were able to travel, receive loans, and start businesses without the permission of their husbands or fathers.