Update to MAR30468.F of 13 November 1998 on divorce procedures, including whether a husband can take his wife back as he sees fit; the protection offered to women who are victims of violence, in particular, those who are harassed by their former husbands (1993-January 2004) [MAR42370.FE]

The attached document, taken from the Website of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, outlines all the forms of marital dissolution in Morocco, including divorce, interim measures and the consequences of divorce (France 21 Feb. 2003). It indicates, among other things, that under the Code of Personal Status and Succession, when divorce is the result of a husband's [translation] "failure to provide" for his wife (article 53) or [translation] "the result of desertion or a vow of continence" (article 58), it is [translation] "revocable" (ibid.; see also Femmes du Maroc Jan. 2004). This means that, during the period of widowhood (also called legal separation or Idda), if a husband has failed to provide for his wife, he has the right to take her back if he [translation] "demonstrates his desire to assume his obligation to support and sustain her" or, if a husband has deserted his wife or made a vow of continence, he may, after four months, [translation] "break his vow and resume married life" (ibid.; France 21 Feb. 2003).

Referring to statements made by Leila Rhiwi, a women's rights activist from Morocco, L'Humanité reported in its 20 December 2003 issue that, as things stood in Morocco at the time, [translation] "a man may divorce as he sees fit-this is called repudiation"-without his wife's consent or even her knowledge. This source added that, with respect to women, [translation] "the courts accept divorce only on 'serious' and extremely difficult-to-prove grounds," that [translation] "some women's divorce process lasts twelve or thirteen years," or that they are occasionally obliged to [translation] "buy their divorce" (L'Humanité 20 Dec. 2003). According to L'Humanité, [translation] "the social consequences of this system are dramatic: the divorce rate is very high, and given that women remain under their husbands' control and are thus economically dependent and vulnerable," some of them wind up on the street without any income (ibid.).

In an article on the situation of women around the world, LaShawn R. Jefferson, executive director of Human Rights Watch's (HRW) Women's Rights Division, wrote in the 22 August 2002 issue of The Wall Street Journal that Morocco's personal status code (the Moudawana), among other things, discriminates against women in the marriage process, treats them as legal minors, and requires them to obey their husbands in all matters. Another article published in spring 2000 estimated that almost half of all married women in Morocco had experienced some form of domestic violence (Win News spring 2000). This article added that there were no laws preventing a man from beating his wife and that the Moudawana (also referred to as the Moroccan family code), which is based on the Koran [the holy book of Islam], deprives women of their rights (ibid.).

In a report on Morocco, a Belgian journalist referred to a Moroccan women's association called Ennakhil, which, in the city of Marrakech, [translation] "assists women who are victims of spousal abuse, but cannot open a shelter for those who are likely to be killed by their husbands" (CND 25 June 2003). Quoting the organization's spokesperson, the Belgian journalist wrote that, if Ennekhil dared to assume responsibility for such a woman, [translation] "her husband has the right to file a complaint," and that it was impossible for women to file complaints of assault and battery under the Moudawana because it [translation] "provides that at least twelve witnesses (men) are required in order to eventually condemn a husband" (ibid.).

Referring to spousal abuse in Morocco, another source indicated that [translation] "there is no law that guarantees the protection of women who are victims of violence" (Fraternet Jan. 2000).

However, concurring sources reported that the Moudawana was in the process of being reformed (Le Monde 17 Jan. 2004; Jeune Afrique/L'Intelligent 11-17 Jan. 2004, 35; L'Express 11 Dec. 2003; L'Humanité 20 Dec. 2003). The new Moroccan family code, which is said to protect women, particularly with respect to marriage and divorce (ibid.; L'Express 11 Dec. 2003; Le Monde 17 Jan. 2004), was approved by the members of parliament on 16 January 2004, but must still be approved by the Chamber of Counselors before coming into force (ibid.).

No specific information on the protection offered to women who are harassed by their former husbands could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References


Centre national de documentation (CND). 25 June 2003. Martine Vandemeulebroucke. "Impatience des féministes marocaines." http://doc.abhatoo.net.ma/doc/article.php3?id_article=855 [Accessed 19 Jan. 2004]

L'Express [Paris]. 11 December 2003. Dominique Lagarde. "Le nouveau Maroc : réformes. La femme égale de l'homme." http://www.lexpress.fr/Express/Info/Monde/dossier/maroc/dossier.asp [Accessed 16 Jan. 2004]

Femmes du Maroc. January 2004. "La Moudawana : dahir du 28 novembre 1957, dahirs des 22 novembre et 18 décembre 1957 et des 25 janvier, 22 février et 4 avril 1958." http://www.femmesdumaroc.ma/main.asp?ID=386 [Accessed 19 Jan. 2004]

France. 21 February 2003. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "Les pensions alimentaires à l'étranger. Les enlèvements internationaux d'enfants : Maroc." http://www.france.diplomatie.fr/francais/familles/fiches/maroc.html [Accessed 16 Jan. 2004]

Fraternet. January 2000. "La femme au Maroc." http://www.fraternet.com/femmes/art44.htm [Accessed 21 Jan. 2004]

L'Humanité [Paris]. 20 December 2003. "Maroc : 'En tant qu'ONG féminines, nous avons un rôle important à jouer lors du débat parlementaire'." BD-http://www.humanite.presse.fr/journal/2003-12-20/2003-12-20-384917> [Accessed 16 Jan. 2004]

Jeune Afrique/L'Intelligent [Paris]. 11-17 January 2004. No. 2244. "Maroc : la Moudawana, trois mois après."

Le Monde [Paris]. 17 January 2004. Tewfik Hakem. "Les députés marocains ont adopté à l'unanimité l'égalité juridique entre hommes et femmes." http://www.lemonde.fr [Accessed 19 Jan. 2004]

The Wall Street Journal. 22 August 2002. LaShawn R. Jefferson. "The War on Women" http://hrw.org/editorials/2002/women0822.htm [Accessed 21 Jan. 2004]

Win News. Spring 2000. "Reports from Around the World: Middle East and Africa." (Dialog).

Attachment


France. 21 February 2003. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "Les pensions alimentaires à l'étranger. Les enlèvements internationaux d'enfants : Maroc." http://www.france.diplomatie.fr/francais/familles/fiches/maroc.html [Accessed 16 Jan. 2004], pp. 1-7.

Additional Sources Consulted


Dialog

IRB Databases

Resource Centre country file. Morocco

Internet sites, including:

Amnesty International

BBC Africa

European Country of Origin Information Network (Ecoi.net)

International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH)

Rights of the Muslim Women in Morocco