“Stay With Him Even If He Wants To Kill You”
Feb 23, Rabat: Moroccan authorities often fail to prevent domestic violence, protect survivors, and punish abusers. We want the Moroccan Minister of Women to strengthen and adopt laws to improve protection for victims of domestic violence. We are asking for your support to back women’s calls for a strong law! Jihan is a domestic violence survivor who wants the government to help women like her. Here is her story.
Jihan (name changed to protect her privacy), 18, told Human Rights Watch that she married a man more than 10 years her senior when she was 15 or 16, and lived with him in a village in El Jadida province, Morocco. She said she married him to escape her father’s violence against her. They had a son who was 2 years old at the time of the interview.
Jihan said her husband abused her from the outset of the marriage:
Starting from the first night of marriage [my husband] didn’t respect me. He brought his friends… He asked me to do things against religion like getting naked and dancing when his friends came. He would play music. I would refuse and he would beat me.
She said her husband raped her repeatedly. “He forced me [to have sex], even if I refused.” She said he beat her every few days, once banging her head on the kitchen sink and causing a gash that required stitches.
When she went to the local police station for help, she said “They [police] said to me, ‘It’s your husband. We can’t do anything. Go to court.’ Even when I had bruises.”
In April 2015, she said, he beat and choked her until she lost consciousness. “I woke up and found myself on the street in my pajamas,” she said. “I went to the police. They said, ‘We can do nothing for you.’ I told them he won’t let me back in the house. They called him but he said, ‘It’s the wrong number.’” She said the police did nothing else, so she went to her sister’s house. Her husband found her and took her back home.
Jihan said that in August, after many more beatings, she asked her husband for a divorce. He replied, “You want a divorce? You can have it this way.” Then he punched her in the eye and attempted to slash her face with a knife. She raised her arm in defense, and he slashed her arm instead. A HRW researcher observed fresh stitches on her arm. Jihan said that she did not file a criminal case because, “I am afraid he will take revenge or kill me.”
Jihan was staying at a shelter run by a nongovernmental organization at the time of the interview, and felt she had nowhere else to turn. She said her son was with his paternal grandmother and she wanted to get him back. She said she also wanted a divorce, but her father refused to hand over her marriage certificate for the divorce application. She said he told her, “In our family, no women get divorced. Stay with him even if he wants to kill you.”
HRW found that Moroccan authorities often fail to prevent domestic violence, protect survivors, and punish abusers.
Domestic violence survivors like Jihan deserve much more from their government. Morocco should strengthen and adopt laws to improve protection for victims of domestic violence.
The Oslo Times/HRW