Morocco Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Women’s Rights January 2015

Morocco has failed to uphold women’s economic, social and cultural rights in their country. A 2011 national study found that 62.8 percent of women in Morocco of ages 18-64 had been victims of some form of violence during the year preceding the study. In cases of violence against women, the perpetrator is the husband in eight out of ten cases. One survey found that 33 percent of respondents believed that a man is sometimes justified to beat his wife. The Advocates for Human Rights (“The Advocates”) partnered with Mobilizing for Rights Associates (“MRA”) to submit a shadow report on Morocco’s compliance with the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in regards to the rights of women.

Morocco lacks substantial legislation that can help address violence against women that exists in Morocco. The current law requires a victim to suffer injuries that result in more than 20 days of disability in order to bring an assault case. Spousal rape is not punished under the law. Morocco lacks the proper resources to protect victims of violence from their attackers. Shelters for women of domestic violence are considered mere “programs” or projects of local NGOs and are not afforded proper security by law enforcement. The shelters that do exist are only in big cities and rural women may not have the money to travel. If a woman does make it into a shelter there are limitations on the duration of her stay and the number of children she can bring with her. Morocco lacks the proper healthcare mechanisms to protect victims of violence. Victims must go to a certified Violence Against Women (VAW) unit, which only exist in big cities. Before a woman is granted her disability certificate the doctor or nurse may try to reconcile the family, telling her she should not break up the family.

Polygamy, which is a violation of a woman’s dignity and constitutes discrimination against women, continues to be practice in Morocco despite the new Family Code. While the legal age of marriage is 18, exceptions are continually made by the Ministry of Justice to marry minors. In 2011, 11.99 percent of all marriages involved a minor. Judges issue authorizations to marry minors based on their own cursory visual examination on the girl’s physical appearance. Women also experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment is only a criminal offense if a superior is trying to obtain sexual favors.

The Advocates and MRA recommended several questions to be asked to the Moroccan government based on their lack of economic, social and cultural rights for women:

1. What specific civil remedies for women victims of violence to guarantee their right to housing such as a civil protection orders and orders removing the violent offender from the home does the government intend to enact?

2.  Please confirm that, pursuant to Article 22, domestic violence is a violation of women’s rights under the Constitution;

3. What steps is the government taking to guarantee free medical care and treatment for women victims of violence in both rural and urban areas of Morocco?

4. What steps have been taken by the Moroccan government to effectively abolish polygamy?

5. What steps is the State Party taking to ensure its sexual harassment laws include the core elements as identified by UN Women?