Stop making excuses for sexual violence: repeal harmful laws

In Algeria and Tunisia, the law allows rapists to walk free if they marry their victim – if she's aged under 18.

A similar loophole in Moroccan law was unanimously abolished by parliament on 22 January 2014, two years after 16-year-old Amina Filali committed suicide having been forced to marry the man she said had raped her. The change in law was a significant step forward for women in Morocco. Women's human rights organizations and Amnesty International had long campaigned for this amendment. However, discriminatory principles underpinning the law, which for example make the severity of punishment for rape dependent on whether the victim was a virgin, are deeply flawed and must be abolished.

Other discriminatory provisions in Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian legislation fail to protect women and girl survivors of sexual violence, routinely denying them justice.

The time for excuses and delays is over. Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian authorities must immediately meet their human rights obligations by adopting comprehensive laws and policies that protect women and girls against sexual violence.

Call on them today to repeal these harmful laws and end discrimination against survivors of sexual violence. Read More

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Message Recipients: Prime Minister of Algeria, Abdelmalek Sellal; Prime Minister of Morocco, Abdelilah Benkirane; Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Transitional Justice, Hafedh Ben Salah; Secretary of State for Women and Family, Neila Chaabane

In Algeria and Tunisia, rapists are evading punishment by marrying their teenage victims. In Morocco and Western Sahara, this is thankfully no longer the case. However, the law still fails to adequately protect survivors of sexual violence.

I call on you to end discrimination against women and girl survivors of sexual violence by:

Amending harmful and discriminatory laws. This includes:

- Abolishing Articles 326 and 227 bis of the Algerian and Tunisian Penal Codes, respectively

- Repealing Article 488 of Morocco’s Penal Code and no longer distinguishing punishment for perpetrators of rape based on a survivor’s virginity

- Amending the definition of rape to reflect international law by being gender-neutral and not requiring physical violence or its proof

- Adopting a comprehensive law to address gender-based violence

- Recognizing marital rape as a specific criminal offence

- Decriminalizing sexual relations between unmarried consenting adults and same-sex sexual relations, as survivors of sexual violence may be deterred from filing a complaint for fear of being themselves prosecuted.

Ensuring accountability and support by

- Making available effective legal remedies that are sensitive to the needs of survivors of sexual violence

- Training police, judges, lawyers and healthcare workers to respond to survivors of sexual violence in a sensitive, confidential, non-discriminatory manner.

- Providing effective social and medical services, including access to emergency contraception and to safe and legal abortions.

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