International

Details surface in Morocco teen rape, suicide case

Rights advocates say the victim's name will help them fight a controversial law in the North African country

A protest outside government offices in Rabat, Morocco, in March 2012 after the suicide of 16-year-old Amina Filali. She was forced to marry the man who had raped her.
AFP/Getty Images

Moroccan human rights advocates told Al Jazeera Wednesday that they have learned the name of a Moroccan girl who committed suicide last month while, rights advocates say, her family was making arrangements for her to marry her rapist.

The rights advocates say the revelation will help them mount a campaign to repeal Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code, which exonerates rapists who marry their victims.

Initial reports in Moroccan media stated that the girl, Amina Tamiri, was 16. Her name was revealed by the local chapter of the NGO Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) in Tamiri's native northern port city of Tetouan.

A friend of Tamiri's family reported that she was actually 12 years old — a middle school student in Morocco — and that her family had, nevertheless, entered into negotiations with the rapist's family to marry their daughter to him in exchange for his release from prison.

In order to complete the transaction that would have had Tamiri marry her assailant, the family reportedly planned to falsify the girl's age on official documents so she would have been old enough for marriage, according to the AMDH chapter's director, Abdel Ali El-Allawi. In Morocco, people are legally allowed to marry at 18, and marriages of girls younger than 15 must be approved by a judge. 

"We know that the judicial system in Morocco is neither independent nor free of corruption," Allawi said.

Al Jazeera learned the name of Tamiri's assailant, but will not release it until judicial authorities confirm the AMDH's report.

Local police declined to answer questions regarding Tamiri's October suicide. 

Her death came about a year and a half after Amina Filali, 16, killed herself by drinking rat poison. Filali's suicide in March 2012 provoked a public outcry — including a number of demonstrations and the Twitter hashtag #RIPAmina — to have Article 475 repealed.

After Al Jazeera last week reported Tamiri's death, a number of Moroccan activists commented on social media that without a name to associate with the cause, it would be impossible for them to use her death to illustrate the ongoing problem with Article 475 and the Moroccan justice system.

Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid told Al Jazeera last week that the repeal of Article 475 is "still just a law project that's being considered by parliament, but has not been rectified."

"There are quite a few girls who suffer this fate" and are married to their rapists, AMDH Vice President Khadija Inani told Al Jazeera.

But Inani is hopeful that making Tamiri's name public will help revive the effort to repeal Article 475.

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