Rape

Moroccan Suicide Focuses Legal Trackers on Rape

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Moroccan activists met in Fez last week to learn how to use an online database of women's rights court decisions. They hope it will help propel reforms that were too late for Amina Filali, the teen who killed herself after being forced to marry her rapist.

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The Global Rights website, which still has to be named, is being funded through the Dutch embassy. In addition to court decisions, it will offer tips for lawyers to creatively litigate cases to promote women's rights, a chat forum and news and updates. Visitors to the site also will be able to send in court decisions of their own.

Aside from those by the Supreme Court, Moroccan court decisions are often scattered and difficult to find, making it hard to track and compare how cases are being decided across the country, Bordat said. Negative decisions can go unnoticed, while those that uphold women's rights may be inaccessible to judges and lawyers who could have taken advantage of them.

"The database allows us to access different rulings related to women's cases, be it positive or negative ones, in order to analyze them and to highlight pitfalls, gaps and irregularities of the rulings," said Mariam Zemouri, president of the Tawaza Association for Women's Advocacy in Martil, a coastal town in northern Morocco.

Bordat added that the long term goal is for the better treatment of women by the justice system overall.

"By having a public tool it adds spotlight and pressure. It will help bring transparency and public access to information, and judges will be held accountable for how they apply the law," she said. "Hopefully it will be a deterrent and make them think twice before issuing an egregious decision."

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Juhie Bhatia is reporting from Morocco on a fellowship from the International Reporting Project (IRP), an independent journalism program based in Washington, D.C. She's the managing editor at Women's eNews.

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