A minister in Morocco’s Islamist government on Thursday called for a change to a law allowing a rapist to marry his victim after a 16-year-old teenager forced into such a union committed suicide.
Bassima Hakkaoui, Minister for Women and Families and the only woman in the cabinet, called for a debate to reform the law, in comments to state television channel 2M.
Her predecessor in the post Nouzha Skalli also declared herself shocked by the affair and called for the law to be changed.
Amina al-Filali, 16, drank rat poison last week in Larache, near Tangiers in the north, after being forced to marry the man who raped her.
He had sought to escape prison by invoking an article of the penal code that authorises the rapist to marry to escape prosecution.
There are several countries that have similar laws/allowances—including Lebanon, Afghanistan, Libya, Tunisia, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, and others. In Mexico and some Latin American countries, a rape case is often considered “resolved” if a rapist offers to marry his victim. Prior to 2000, there were 14 Latin American countries that allowed rapists to be legally exonerated if they marry (or in some cases simply offer to marry) their victims. Similar practices are also often accepted or encouraged in rural Asian communities.
But change is possible. Ethiopia used to have a similar law that allowed rapists to go free if they could convince their victim (or, more frequently, the victim’s family) to marry him. This law was repealed in 2002 (thanks in part to efforts by Equality Now). Uruguay also used to allow rapists to escape punishment if they married their victims, but this portion of the penal code was amended in 2006.
This case is actually over a year old, but I am glad the outcry over this law is growing louder—and that there is so much support for the change within Morocco.
So my wonderful friend ideaswithoutcauses asked me for some book recommendations addressing various topics in easy to understand/accessible ways. I decided to come up with a list and share it with everyone. I hope someone finds this helpful. :) All books with asterisks by them are books I have not yet read but currently have on my “to read” list.
Race, Class, & Gender:
- Ain’t I a Woman by bell hooks*
- Where We Stand: Class Matters by bell hooks
- White Like Me: Reflections on Race From a Privileged Son by Tim Wise
- Nickel & Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
- Women, Race, & Class by Angela Davis*
- The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued by Ann Crittenden*
- Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East by Isobel Colemen*
- The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler
- In the Name of Honor: A Memoir by Mukhtar Mai
Modern Day Slavery & Human Trafficking:
- Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy by Kevin Bales
- Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves by Kevin Bales
- The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam
- A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
- Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser*
- In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan*
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver*
A wonderful friend of mine is participating in the Santa Monica 5000 on October 2, and she is raising money for Women for Women International’s TEAM CONGO!
The funds will be directed to the organization’s program in the DR Congo, which is the site of the world’s deadliest war since World War II. Over 5.4 million people have been killed there since 1998, and rape is used daily as a weapon of war against Congolese women and girls.
Since its founding in 1993, Women for Women International has served nearly 300,000 women survivors of war around the world, in countries like Afghanistan, Sudan, and the DR Congo. Women for Women International’s year-long program provides these women with direct financial assistance, job skills training, rights awareness education, and the emotional support they need to get back on their feet.
My friend Louise Abnee is aiming to raise $500 for this cause by October 2. Every little bit helps—if you can afford to send $5, $10, or $20 her way for this cause, it would be greatly appreciated! To donate, follow this link!!
To learn more about this cause, visit womenforwomen.org and runforcongowomen.org :)
Despite the intense efforts of many agencies and organizations, and numerous inspiring successes, the picture is still disheartening, as it takes far more than changes in law or stated policy to change practices in the home,community and in the decision-making environment. In many parts of the world rape is not considered a crime, goes unpunished and continues to be used as a tool of war. Even in highly developed countries, violence against women of all kinds is routine, and often condoned.
A pregnant woman in Africa is 180 times more likely to die of pregnancy complications than in western Europe. Women, mostly in rural areas, represent more than two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults. In the United States, 90% of AIDS cases under 20 years of age are girls.
In many developed countries, where basic gender equality appears to have been achieved, the battlefront has shifted to removing the more intangible discrimination against working women. Women still hold only 15.6% of elected parliamentary seats globally.
When I first heard about the SlutWalk movement, I admittedly had very mixed feelings about it. I understood the message, but I questioned the methods. I couldn’t express why, but something about the movement unsettled me. To an extent, it still does. Nevertheless, when I heard that SlutWalk was coming to Houston (and that I would be in town for it), I decided I wanted to participate. To be clear, I do still think there are flaws with the movement, as no movement is perfect—there will always be issues with inclusivity and message framing and what not, but that doesn’t mean the movement isn’t worthwhile or important or effective. So I went and participated and lent my voice on Saturday.
So why did I decide to participate?
For me, SlutWalk represents the need to fight (and put an end to) victim blaming and sexual violence. SlutWalk to me means that no one deserves to be raped or assaulted or harassed. No one is ever “asking for it.” No one is to blame for the assault except for the perpetrator, the rapist, the assaulter.
If you have been a victim of rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment, listen to me. I don’t care who you are, what you were wearing, what you were doing, where you were working, or who you were with—the blame belongs to the person who assaulted you. It is NOT your fault. I don’t care if you are drunk and high and running down the street at night completely naked—nothing ever, ever, EVER gives anyone the right to rape you, to assault you, to lay a single hand on you without your expressed verbal consent. Period.
SlutWalk also means we need to stop shaming women for their sexuality. The number of comments I have encountered stating that “if women don’t want to be treated like sluts, they shouldn’t dress like sluts,” or “If you dress/act/look like a whore, don’t be surprised when you get treated like a whore”—it’s just maddening. And heartbreaking. Women are taught their whole lives to be ashamed of their bodies, of their appearance, of their sexuality, of their sexual desires. And if (God forbid) women try to break free of these constraints, to own their sexuality and be proud of their bodies, then they are told they deserve to be raped and assaulted—they are reduced to nothing more than physical objects, good for nothing more than the sexual pleasure of other people (particularly men).
Women’s bodies and sexuality have been commodified for a long time. You see it everywhere—in the sex trade, in advertising, in the calculated use of sexual violence in war, in the trafficking of women and girls all over the world. And yet at the same time that women and girls are being told that their only value is in their sexuality, they are also being told to value their virginity (and in many cultures, including much of the U.S.) that their virginity is their only TRUE source of value. Without it, they are damaged goods. Worthless. Disgusting. Filthy. Ruined. So women and girls are taught that if they want to be loved and valued and accepted, they must be sexy/sexual—but not too sexual, because then they are just worthless sluts and whores. Be sexy. Attract sexual attention. But not too much—you don’t want to be a whore. (And even if the attention you are attracting is unwanted, remember it is your fault. You are doing something to attract that attention.)
I know I personally received that message from a lot of sources growing up, and it is a message I am still trying to break free from. But like many other young women, that message was ingrained in me: "Sex is bad. Sex is wrong. Don’t think about sex, talk about sex, and certainly don’t HAVE sex…and if you do, you should know you are a terrible little girl." Even though intellectually I know that message is wrong, I still have an emotional, knee-jerk reaction to open conversations about sex and sexuality. I am working through that, and I aim to support and promote very sex positive messages that embrace and encourage safe and healthy sex, open communication, verbal consent, healthy relationships.
I also believe sex should only happen when all parties involved are ready, willing, and able to participate. And if at *any* point someone withdraws consent, sexual contact should cease immediately. No excuses. Consent should never be assumed. And what someone is wearing (or not wearing) does NOT constitute consent. Neither does what their makeup looks like, whether they are drinking or not, whether they are flirting or dancing or partying in public, whether they are a sex worker on the corner or an exotic dancer on the pole, whether they getting high in a club or running in a sports bra down the street—it doesn’t matter. Because none of that conveys consent. None of that gives someone the right to lay a hand on them. None of that means they deserve to be raped or assaulted. None of that means they were “asking for it.”
I don’t care how someone dresses or where they work or what their background is. Everyone deserves to be respected and loved and treated with dignity. And no amount of shaming and victim blaming will ever change that fact. For me, SlutWalk is about making sure everyone knows that.
“Beyonce - Run the World (LIES)” This video is so true that it almost pains me. Almost. Watch it if you give a damn about females in general. You miiight learn something.
I think I love this woman…watch itttt. :)
Sign the THANK YOU Letter Today: Thank You For Standing with Planned Parenthood
I just love this…Rick Perry is making a lot of terrifying decisions in Texas which will affect some of the most basic services and social infrastructures of the state… everything from access to medication and treatment for HIV positive patients to education to Medicaid to women’s rights and women’s health care…
So I agree—damn, Rick Perry, you’re scary!!