"Not Killed Twice?"
By Koulila Brahim
Rape has been among the most horrible crimes that a man can commit, and one of the worst nightmares that can befall a girl or woman. No society is spared from this barbaric act, for rapists exist on every single spot on earth, and because men considering women as sex objects exist everywhere, if not the majority think so. Still, we can say that rape, as a phenomenon, is rifer in some places than in others. For instance, we all know that in India, Republic of Congo, Afghanistan and many other African countries, the rate of rape is shockingly high. This is so because of some factors, such as wars, illiteracy, the weak enforcement of related to (rape) laws, among others. The way these countries handle rape differs from one place to another, according to religion, culture, laws…Still, a rapist should in the end be punished to deter the others. It is really illogical that a rapist gets away with his crime. In some Arab countries, rapists are somehow rewarded for their crimes; a victim is compelled to marry her rapist as a kind of "rehabilitation", which sometimes, if not often, kills her twice. Amina, a Moroccan girl (from Larache, a city in the north) has killed herself to escape the hell of her "husband". She was compelled to marry her rapist according to article 475 of the Moroccan penal code.
Amina was killed twice. First, she was mercilessly raped by a Moroccan man in 2011; then, she was forced to marry him, as a kind of protection. It was her mother who got her father to accept the proposition that a judge had made: this latter wanted to protect Amina by marrying her to her killer -- he robbed her of the most precious thing an Arab girl has, virginity. As such, Amina had to live with the person who had ruined her life. Ironically, the rapist did his best to force her into leaving his house by repeatedly beating her. Fortunately for him, Amina spared him the trouble; living in rather miserable conditions beyond a 16-year-old girl's physical and mental capacities, she resorted to gulping rat poison, putting an end to her life on March 10, 2012.
Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code killed Amina. On what basis did the judge marry her to that monster? How can we protect such a young raped girl by marrying her to her rapist? It was article 475, on which the judge relied, which killed her the second time. Moroccans have been familiar with similar cases where a raped girl has to marry the person who deflowers her. Although, I am not a jurist, I would say the legislator-a lot of articles in the Moroccan penal code were borrowed from the French one-- put this article to kind of deter rapists and punish them by marrying their victims. As such, a person would have to marry a raped woman, not a virgin one, and then not enjoy a full marriage, as it were. I totally disagree with this article and with those who conceived it. Which deterrence is this, for God's sake? To really deter a rapist, law should leave no rescue door, so to speak, for him. When we give him the choice to go to prison or marry the victim, we already let him get away with his (foul) crime. Worse, we reward him: anyone can marry the one he loves - who may not love him-- by ripping her hymen and putting her family before reality.
Is not this article complicit in rape crimes? This law is absolutely defective! It not only helps criminals get away with their crimes but also ruins the life of innocent girls. In other words, it closes the door before the victims of rape, their parents, civil society…to make a rapist pay dear for his crime. Incidentally, when families accept to marry their girls to their rapists, they deprive them of living decently: A rapist feels that his victim accepts to marry him because she has no alternative, which makes him bully her more. This is exactly what happened to Amina. Her "husband" maltreated her to take revenge for having been made to marry her, as if he were the victim. Still, I cannot grasp the rationale behind this cursed and silly article: In Islam, as well as in the Moroccan family code, a judge has the right to make two people marry only when they are agreed and like each other; otherwise, he would be breaking one of the most important pillars of marriage which is the consent of both parties. If the judge had sent him to prison, Amina might have got over her trauma, but compelling her to live with him could yield no result but what happened. The least thing that could have relieved her pain is that seeing that monster behind the bars. Who told the judge and her family that she would feel comfortable with him? The poor girl could not revolt against her family-- who, in turn, condoned the crimes of the rapist and the judge-- or against law and preferred to kill herself as would a rat be killed, creating a huge polemic about the article and the whole case.
Nobody heeded the civil society's voice. It would be ungrateful to say that Moroccan civil society did nothing to foreground her case, yet the government seems to not care a damn about it, except for the condemnation of its council, which remains a symbolic act. What is shameful in her case is that the Moroccan minister of justice, Mr. Mustapha Ramid, rather underplayed Amina's death, claiming that she had married her rapist willingly and that she had had sex with him as there had been an affair between them. Actually, Mr. Ramid presented a very flimsy argument for the judge's decision: he said that her father was the one who asked for marriage --to avoid "Chouha" (scandal). Indeed, this was another factor that pushed her family to accept the "wise" proposition of the judge and made Amina put an end o her life.
Fear of scandal has made many "Aminas" either live like slaves or commit suicide. In Morocco, raped girls are considered as a shame upon their families: one would wonder at the fact that they are considered as guilty as their rapists, but, unfortunately, this is widely common in some families - not only in Morocco, but in the Arab world in general. Very often, a raped girl's family do their best to get rid of her as if she were rotten meat: they either compel her to marry her rapist himself or kind of sell her to the first man who knocks on their door - any suitor, regardless of his social status. Such Moroccan families fear scandal and the sarcasm of their relatives, acquaintances, friends…Amina was victim of this prehistoric mentality; instead of being defended, she was flung into hell (compelled to live with a monster). In this respect, Mr. Tariq Ramadan, the great Swiss (from Egyptian origins) thinker and writer, while giving a lecture in Tangiers on March 24, could not but bring up her story, confirming that the article in question has nothing to do with Islam.
The case of Amina is, doubtless, extremely moving and one cannot but feel sorry for her killing herself; still, it reminds us of how some people think when their daughters are raped. Should not one in such a case sue the culprit and support the victim by all possible means? Did not Amina deserve to be treated as a victim of the barbarism of a monster who ripped her hymen as when a hungry person splits a watermelon, eat the flesh and throws away the rind? This poor girl was victim of a barbaric act, but worse than that, she was victim of a stupid law and a society still living in benightedness-her family. If this case goes unnoticed, surely many "Aminas" will be suffering from the same treatment, knowing that hundreds of similar cases happen yearly without being cared about.