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Morocco outraged over suicide of rape victim forced to marry rapist
RABAT, Morocco (AP) ' Morocco's internet activists mobilized on Wednesday in outrage over the suicide of a 16-year-old rape victim who killed herself after she was forced to marry her rapist.
An online petition, a facebook page and countless tweets expressed horror of the case of Amina Filali, who swallowed rat poison on Saturday to protest her five months of marriage to the man who raped her a year earlier.
Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code allows for the "kidnapper" of a minor to marry his victim to escape prosecution, and it has been used to justify a traditional practice of making a rapist marry his victim to preserve the family's honor.
"Amina, 16, was triply violated, by her rapist, by tradition and by article 475 of the Moroccan law," tweeted activist Abadila Maaelaynine.
The victim's father said in an interview with an online Moroccan newspaper that the court pushed the marriage on her.
"The prosecutor advised my daughter to marry, he said 'go and make the marriage contract,'" said Lahcen Filali in an interview that appeared on goud.ma Tuesday night.
In many societies, the loss of a woman's virginity outside of wedlock is a huge stain of honor on the family. In many Middle East societies, there is a tradition whereby a rapist can escape prosecution if he marries his victim, thereby restoring her honor. There is a similar injunction in the Old Testament's Book of Deuteronomy
Morocco updated its family code in 2004 in a landmark improvement of the situation of women, but activists say there remains room for improvement.
In cases of rape, the burden of proof is often on the victim and if she can't prove she was attacked, a woman risks being prosecuted for debauchery.
According to the interview with the father, the girl was accosted on the street and raped when she was 15, but it was two months before she told her parents.
He said the court pushed the marriage, even though the perpetrator initially refused. He only consented when faced with prosecution. The penalty for rape is between five and 10 years in prison, but rises to 10 to 20 in the case of a minor.
Filali said Amina complained to her mother that her husband was beating her repeatedly during the five months of marriage but that her mother counseled patience.
A Facebook page called "We are all Amina Filali" has been formed and an online petition calling for Morocco to end the practice of marrying rapists and their victims has already gathered more than 1,000 signatures.