Morocco: Rabat reacts to law criminalising violence against women

A new law criminalising violence against women and banning forced marriages went into effect in Morocco on September 12, seven months after it was approved in Parliament on February 14.
Known as the Hakkaoui law, it is named after Moroccan Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development Bassima Hakkaoui.
A government survey found that almost 63 percent of women aged 18-65 had been subject to violence in Morocco.
"We see that there are massive violations against women's rights. The first nationwide research examining violence against women was conducted in 2009. To be honest, this is a scary number: 62.8 percent of women suffer from violence in different forms," Hakkaoui said in an interview filmed on September 17.
"We cannot just implement this law in courts. It has to be implemented by spreading awareness as to what this law entails, and educating both men and women about it. For women, so that they know their rights. And for men, because this is a common value," Hakkaoui added.
Among its measures, the law provides a definition of sexual harassment, including unwelcome acts, comments or signs of a sexual nature, carried out in person, via telephone or online.
Human Rights Watch says the act delivers progress in some areas, but that further reform is needed, criticising the legislation for not "explicitly" criminalising marital rape and for failing to provide a definition of domestic violence.
Footage from September 14 shows Rabat residents reacting to the law with largely favourable opinions.
"For me this is a gain for Moroccan society and Moroccan women, that we have a law," one resident said.
"I am in favour of the law against sexual harassment because sexual harassment is very much present in Morocco," said another resident.
Punishments for violating the law range from one month to five years in jail and fines from $200 (€170) to $1,000 (€850). Punishments are harsher in case of personal or professional familiarity between perpetrator and victim, or in case of the perpetrator belonging to the security authorities.

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