The parliament of Morocco has removed a section of its penal code that allowed rapists of underage girls to marry their victims in order to avoid being prosecuted, reports the International Business Times: Article 475 previously provided a prison term from one to five years for anyone who "abducts or deceives" a minor "without violence, threat or fraud, or attempts to do so." However, in the second clause it specified that in the event of the victim marrying the perpetrator, "he can no longer be prosecuted except by persons empowered to demand the annulment of the marriage and then only after the annulment has been proclaimed."In rural areas of Morocco, a woman who has lost her virginity is considered to have dishonored her family and to be no longer suitable for marriage. Pressure to change the law grew when teenage rape survivor Amina Filali committed suicide in March 2012 after being forced to marry her attacker.Although women's rights groups have applauded the amendment, some say that the country's laws need a much larger overhaul to promote gender equality.
Ana Martinez is a Spring 2014 intern.