2009

Tutor: Andrew Patrick ID: 7504993

[ARE WOMEN OPPRESSED IN MOROCCO?]
Contemporary Middle East Essay [1267 words]

Are women oppressed in Morocco?
Contents
Are women oppressed in Morocco? ....................................................................................................... 1 Introduction .......................................................................................... ¡Error! Marcador no definido. Morocco – a fairly positive example................................................................................................... 3 The Moudawa and the Women’s Rights movement ...................................................................... 3 Women’s legal rights ...................................................................................................................... 4 Women’s right to be and decide independently ............................................................................ 5 Women at work .............................................................................................................................. 5 Women’s political rights ................................................................................................................. 6 Women’s social and cultural rights ................................................................................................. 6 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................... 6 Bibliography ........................................................................................................................................... 7

Introduction Judeao-Christian-Muslim Societies have historically had a tendency to be patriachical and to support men‟s power and status predominance. From a European point of view the Arab world is often seen with some skepticism. Special attention is given to the role of women in an Islamic order. In many reports and documentaries it looks as if Arab women have few or no rights. Many women wonder if this view represents a misinterpretation of the situation, or an exaggeration of the real facts of this situation. This essay will analyze the situation of women in Morocco, where WOMEN ARE OPPRESSED, but strong progress has taken place during the last 50 years, and especially since 1999, when King Mohammed VI ascended to the throne.

2

Morocco – a fairly positiv example If we compare the situation of Moroccan women to women„s situation in other Arabic countries, Morocco would be placed in a leading position. It‟s not very advanced but its recent history shows us its good will to help its women out of their misery.1
The Moudawa and the Women’s Rights movement

In 1885 a group of women started to fight for equality and ten years after that dozens of women‟s rights organizations were working towards this goal. In 1992 the Union of Women‟s Action started a campaign which became so strong that the King, Hassan II was obligated to consider modifications in the Family Code, introduced in 1957. Only moderate feminists were allowed to participate in the gathering. The improvements made, were weak, but nevertheless positive. For example the Article 16c of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Morocco grants “the same right and responsibilities” to men and women “during marriage and its dissolution.” Nevertheless, the Moudawana (Morocco's family law)2 retained many discriminating characteristics. In 2005, however, further rather progressive reforms were made. See the table below which compares the main improvements of the new Family Code: Family Code of 1957 Family Code of 1993 Women may get married at 15 Family Code of 2005 Women may get married at 18 Men could verbally divorce their wives at any time, and their decision would be legally binding Men could verbally divorce their wives at any time, and their decision would be legally binding Divorce must be settled in court. Women now have the right to divorce their husbands as well, including a failure to observe any of the conditions in the marriage contract, or if the man harmed his wife through lack

1

(Unesco, 2007)
The Moroccan Family Code, [Online], Available from: <http://www.hrea.org/moudawana.html>.

2

3

of financial support, abstinence, violence or any other wrongful deeds Polygamy was allowed Polygamy was permitted, with or without the consent of the previous wives, but the wives have to get informed In case of divorce custody of the child always went to the father The legal guardian chooses the husband The women may get custody of The women may receiv4e the child if the father is dead or sick Women choose their husband freely but a legal guardian has to be present at the wedding Women choose their husband on their own
3

Judge's authorisation required for polygamy

custody of the child

But we have to consider that with a 68 percent female illiteracy rate, many women are not even conscious of their legal rights. And the mission of educating them about their rights was for the most part done by nongovernmental organizations. 4
(Lamzari)

Generally Morocco is a country with positive changes towards economic and political liberalization in particular more recently under the reign of King Mohammed VI, who ascended the throne in 1999. Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) fighting for human rights of women are generally free to organize and set up conferences, seminars and so on.

Women’s legal rights

Under the Constitution, women have the same political rights as men. There are measures to improve the status of Moroccan women such as the creation of a Ministry responsible for the “status of women”. Nevertheless, judges on issues of marriage, divorce, inheritance, custody of children etc, still generally decide in favour of men. In addition, Moroccan women cannot
3 4

M. W., Morocco: Giving Women More Rights, [Online], Available from: <http://www.mwcoalition.org/id130.html>. (Lamzari, 2009)

4

pass their citizenship or their foreign husband or children born to a foreign husband except under special circumstances. The new laws passed have been generally favourable to the interests of women in the criminal code. Cases of adultery, abuse, violence are punished equally for men and women, but women can still be punished if they become pregnant outside of marriage, and a woman's testimony is not yet equal to that of a man.5

Women’s right to be and decide independently

It is not legal for a woman to marry a non-Muslim. The laws that prevented women to travel independently or obtain a passport have been rejected, but in practice state‟s officials still require girls or married women to prove the authorization of her father or husband. The Code of Personal Status says that women and men share responsibility for family and family affairs, with both rights and duties. Women can opt for the pro mutual consent divorce and divorce due to irreconcilable differences. Trafficking of Moroccan or African girls is a serious problem in the country.6 Child labour is common in Morocco where girls between 10 and 12 are employed as domestic workers even though the legal working age rose from 12 to 15 years in 2002. 7

Women at work

Discrimination against women in the Moroccan economy is a factor delaying gender equality. The lack of access to equal economic rights is more common in rural than in urban areas, due to lack of literacy and knowledge. Illiteracy rates among women in Morocco are very high: 61.7%. Primary education is mandatory only since 2000 and rural women are involved in high proportion. 8The labour code provides for equality at work in employment and salaries, but here again the theory is different from the practice. Some professions remain closed to women. Unemployment tends to be higher among women. Those with high academic standards suffer a higher rate of unemployment than any other group of women.

5 6

(Hillauer, 2005) (Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery) 7 (USA) 8 (Spratt, 2000)

5

Women’s political rights

Women can participate in the judicial and legislative branches and have some freedom of public expression. In 1999, 30 parliamentary seats were allocated to women candidates, a valuable increase of 1% of the seats to 10.8%.9 Nominations and participation in local elections is back without active government support and mechanisms to increase representation. Women constitute one-sixth of the country's lawyers and judges in almost all court levels. Their participation at the ministerial level did not show much success with only one woman in the position of Secretary of State.

Women’s social and cultural rights

Access to social and cultural rights is limited and in some cases restricted for women in general, and especially so for rural women. Media and press in particular have promoted positive changes in the status of women. Women now play a more active role in radio and television. 10

Conclusion
Moroccan women’s situation is clearly aggrieved. They lag far behind in their economic and social participation and decision making. Women remain an under-utilized and under-endowed human resource, and the gap between women and men tends to be unjustifiably large. That limits women’s choices and opportunities enormously. Compared with the past, however, women’s situation is upgrading in every single field. The conversion to more progressive laws and rules is gaining ground slowly in Morocco.

9

10

(Hillauer, 2005) (Agha)

6

Bibliography
(n.d.). Retrieved from Morocco: Giving women more rights.: http://www.mwcoalition.org/id130.html Agha, S. (n.d.). Evaluación Comparativa sobre los Derechos de las Mujeres en Oriente Medio y el Norte de África: Una desventaja profunda. Retrieved from http://www.mediterraneas.org/article.php3?id_article=460 Black, I. (Tuesday 23 December 2008). Saudi girl, eight, married off to 58-year-old is denied divorce. The Guardian . El-Hennawy, N. (2006, August). Reigning Supreme. (E. t.-t. Egypt, Ed.) Hillauer, R. (2005). Encyclopedia of Arab Women Filmmakers. The American University in Cairo Press. Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://gvnet.com/humantrafficking/Morocco.htm Johanyak, D. (2006). Behind the veil. University Of Akron Press . Lamzari. (2009). Frauenrechte in Marokko im Rahmen der neuen Moudawana. University of Vienna. Rippin, A. (2003). Muslims: Vol. 2, The Contemporary Period: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. New York Taylor & Francis. Owen, R. (2000). State, Power and Politics in the making of the modern Middle East. Routledge. Salman, M. (1987). Women in the Middle East. Zed Books. Shana Cohen, L. J. (2006). Morocco. Routledge. Shariff, S. (January 1, 2007). EL VELO DEL MIEDO. Circulo De Lectores. Spratt, J. E. (2000). Women and Literacy in Morocco. Sage editions. The Moroccan Family Code. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.hrea.org/moudawana.html The Muslim Woman. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.themuslimwoman.org/ Unesco, A. B. (2007, 05 23). La mujer, agente de desarrollo y cambio. El caso de Marruecos y la cooperación mediterránea. Récupéré sur http://www.iemed.org/publicacions/quaderns/7/e023_Bennani.pdf USA, B. o. (n.d.). Morocco. Retrieved from http://www.dol.gov/ilab/media/reports/iclp/sweat/morocco.htm

7

8

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful