RABAT - Morocco could scrap a disputed statutory rape law that favours the perpetrator, excusing them from jail if they marry their victim, the justice ministry said on Monday.
The suicide in March 2012 of 16-year-old rape victim Amina Filali, who was forced to marry her aggressor, launched the law into the spotlight and led to intensifying calls for its repeal.
The justice ministry said in a statement it supported a proposal by parliament to alter article 475 of the penal code, under which the rape of a minor is punishable by several years in prison unless the victim and their aggressor wed.
The proposal has yet to be formally approved by both houses, however.
The ministry said it was prepared to go even further than scrapping the paragraph on marriage, suggesting harsher punishments for rapists of minors, including up to 30 years in prison rather than the current stipulated five.
The dramatic suicide attempt by a young Moroccan house maid earlier this month has revived concerns about violence towards women and child workers in Morocco.
The 19-year-old women, who leapt from the fourth floor of an apartment building in Casablanca where she worked, had been employed as a domestic worker since the age of 14, said Omar Kindi, president of the NGO Insaf.
She was saved by a young man, who caught her as she fell and was killed in doing so, with the incident filmed by a neighbour and posted on the Internet.
"In 2010, she was raped in Marrakesh, prompting a dramatic change in her already sad life," said Kindi, who visited her in hospital and whose NGO supports women and children in distress.
"Her parents refused to receive her, and then sent her from one employer to another. Wounded and in despair, she tried to kill herself by slashing her wrists," Kindi added.