In Morocco, more than 50% of women have experienced violence. Among these women, only about 28% have sought help from others regarding their abusive environment. There is a new law put in place to criminalize violent actions against women. However, the government still needs to address several issues to protect women effectively from domestic violence in Morocco.
Laws to Protect Women Against Domestic Violence
The new law passed in 2018 outlaws some form of violent actions against partners and allows authorities to step into domestic affairs if it is necessary. This law spreads awareness and provides prevention measures. Abused women can file cases to charge abusive partners or family members. However, the law does not clarify what domestic violence is nor does it explicitly make marital rape a crime. Moreover, the law does not financially support victims or survivors of violence or any shelters for those who need housing after escaping from an abusive environment. The law requires police to be able to help abused women. However, they did not record statements of victims and made them go back to their partners in some cases. The law failed to create a system that checks if the authorities carry out their duties to protect the rights of abused women.
Vulnerable Women and Poverty
Poor women do not have access to education. As a result, they have to be financially dependent on their partners because they cannot find a job. These women tend to receive violence from their partner more passively than those who have jobs. Lack of education and jobs makes women vulnerable to abusive relationships because they feel no power to defend their rights and interests. Because of a lack of access to stable housing after escaping from an abusive situation, women are often forced to return to their abusive partners. Victims file criminal cases against their partners, but most of them drop cases because of the pressure from family or financial reasons. In the interview by UNFPA, Khadija tells her struggle about being financially dependent on her family after getting divorced from the abusive husband. She struggled with finding a job because of a lack of education.
Nongovernmental Organizations Help Abused Women
Several institutions and shelters exist in Morocco to help survivors of domestic violence. The Multi-sectoral Joint Programme is carried out by 13 national groups and more than 50 nongovernmental organizations. It provides legal and economic support for abused women. By 2010, they had 52 counseling centers in Morocco. Additionally, Fais entendre ta voix (Make Your Voice Heard) is a group working to empower women in Morocco. It offers legal help for women to defend themselves.
Effects of COVID-19 on the Victims
The COVID-19 lockdown prohibits individuals from going out without authorization. As a result, abused women cannot seek help. They have no choice but to stay at home where they face abuse. The number of calls to the hotline from abused women is about twice to three times more than before. After the efforts made by advocates, the authority made it possible to file domestic violence cases through phone calls and the Internet. This makes it easier for women who cannot go out to file cases. Poverty also plays a significant role in preventing abused women from seeking help because they do not have access to phones or technology. Therefore, the new tool to file complaints by phone and online help some victims. However, the COVID-19 lockdown still leaves impoverished women vulnerable.
The new law passed in 2018 is a big step to help vulnerable women in Morocco. Financial support and education for women can help to empower women more. Being financially dependent on husbands or partners makes it difficult for women to seek help or escape from an abusive partner. In the survey, more than 60% of men showed the possession of beliefs that women need to endure violence to keep family together. This shows the need to change social beliefs as well.
– Sayaka Ojima