Saturday, January 24, 2004

Morocco: law increasing women's rights passed

The Senate (Chamber of Counselors?) has passed a law which protects women's rights. This is the final hurdle in the legislative branch.

Some of the changes ...
- age of marriage for girls increased from 15 to 18
- makes it easier for women to sue for divorce
- right of women to gain custody of their children
- gives women rights to property jointly gained during marriage
- allows for a pre-nuptial agreement forbidding husbands from taking another wife

But ...
Critics ... [have] pointed out that, with 85% illiteracy among women in rural areas, many would never find out about their new rights.
The campaign to change the law was attacked by conservative elements for being "un-Islamic" and an attempt to Westernize Moroccan culture.
Mohamed VI, who made this issue [the new law] a priority when he reached the throne in 1999, decided to step in, leveraging his status as the country's supreme religious authority. An advisory commission composed of religious theorists, academics, and women activists was later set up to propose a revised, Islam-derived reform.