Killed twice: Marrying the man who raped her

Is honour considered so sacred that the life of a human being becomes insignificant in comparison?

Aneka Chohan April 22, 2012
A young girl lay dead across the bedroom floor, and a small open bottle lay just mere inches from her hand with the words ‘rat poison’ printed across the label. She had just committed suicide - an act forbidden by the laws of God and nature.

Her reason? She was ordered by a judge to marry the very man who had raped her. Amina Filali was just 16 when she ended her life.

Only last year, Amina’s parents filed charges against their daughter’s rapist who was 10 years older than the teenager. The judge, in the Moroccan city of Tangier, concluded that rather than punishing him, the two must marry.

The decision was taken in order to ‘resolve’ the damage of sexual violation against Amina, to force the boy to do the honourable thing and marry the girl he violated. However, this decision just led to more suffering for her family - the family that despised the rapist, now her husband.

The Moroccan penal code was updated in 2004 in order to give women greater rights. However, with rape cases, the victim is burdened with providing evidence that she was attacked or she risks getting prosecuted for debauchery. According to Moroccan law, rapists are sentenced from five to ten years in prison which can also rise to between 10 and 20 years if the victim is a minor.

Article 475 of the penal code allows the rapist to marry an under-age victim to preserve the honour of the woman’s life. This type of forced marriage stems from local rural traditions to ‘protect’ the honour of girls who have been raped. According to the Moroccan penal code, upon agreeing to marry the victim, the rapist becomes exempt from punishment.

In most cases, like Amina’s, the decision to marry one’s rapist in order to safeguard their own honour leaves the innocent victim at the mercy of the cruel rapist and his family. Similarly, these young girls are often mistreated by the rapist’s family, and they suffer from domestic abuse as well as starvation.

The Moroccan law of ordering the victim to marry her rapist is yet another form of violence and abuse committed against women. The law is utter cruelty disguised in the form of a solution. Rather than safeguarding the honour of women, this law safeguards the honour of men.

Surely, if the decision was taken in Amina’s favour, wouldn’t the judge have sent the rapist to prison or sentenced him to another punishment rather than telling the young girl to tie knot with the man who traumatised her in the worst possible way?

Unfortunately, the justice system is based on such ideologies, which is why perhaps many Moroccan feminists protest that the law should be changed to avoid women marrying their rapists.

[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r39a4EhTTxw]]

One thing is for sure – rapists can never make good husbands. Just think about it; can a man who treats a woman in such a despicable and dishonourable way ever make a good husband? Moreover, can the woman who was brutally raped ever make a good wife to the very man who sodomised her? She will surely hate an resent him for the rest of her life. How on earth could a judge think that marriage could be an apt solution?

The story of Amina is not the first horror story we have heard. It is an all too common phenomenon in Muslim countries to protect one's honour. My question is, is the honour of a patriarchal society so sacred that the life of a human being becomes insignificant in comparison?

If justice – and I mean, real justice – was to be served to Amina, her rapist would've be stoned to death or hanged till his neck broke. The marriage ordered by the judge just goes to prove how strong male dominance is in this world and how weak the female position is.

Even though we go about living in the 21st century, the law, traditions and society values do not differ from the ones in the middle ages. It is high time that women demand their rights; it is high time we speak up for abolishing the law that orders victims to marry their rapists.

Read more by Aneka here, or follow her on Twitter @anekachohan.
WRITTEN BY:
Aneka Chohan The author is a freelance journalist and human rights activist. She tweets as @anekachohan (https://twitter.com/anekachohan)
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

COMMENTS (56)

Arshad Hussain | 8 years ago | Reply There is a case in Muslim History> One old man Grabbed and dragged a young man holding his neck to the Qazi. Old man said that this young man raped my daughter, i want you to kill him. Qazi after few moment suggested the old man to marry her daughter to this young man. Old man get angry that how come i marry my girl with the rapist. Qazi told the old man to put the sword in the Niam (the cover in which Swords were placed) in Qazi's hand. When old man tried to put in it, the qazi put or take Niam in side. Trying this by two or three times, the old man said how can i put the sword in when You dont want to be put in. The Qazi told the old man that, the same in the case of your Daughter, what can this young man do when your daughter doesn't want any. The Old man got the point and did the same to his daughter. While in the case of this 16 year old, She might be in taunting by her family members. So she couldn't bear the pressure and taunting of the society and committed suicide, She was just 16.
danish bhat | 8 years ago | Reply @good good: @good good: I think u r grossly mistaken !!!! she didnt went .... she was abducted from her home... n then kept at places at the mercy of her perpetrators... god only knows what she n all the other unfortunate girls like her go through.. Let me give u some eye openers...hindus constituted about 15-20% of pakistani population at the time of independence now its marely above 1% !!! Can u tell me Y ? Every year hundreds of pakistani hindu families come to Indai on tourist visas, never to return back..why would a family leave there county to live in refugee camps in onter nations ? All of them have same horror stories to share..sometimes, their wives are kidnapped even after they had kids !! never to be seen again by her child and other family members...somtimes it is small girls of the age of 12-13 years, and somtimes the targets are marriagble hindu girls.. the wealthy people go to western countries.. What could be the possible reason for their exodus ? About 25-30 hindu girls suffer similar fate every month in pakistan.. This is not a report made by india or fabricated by western countries to defame pakistan !!! It is a report from Human Right Commission pakistan.. Can u defy these stats ? And also, hindu marriages are very hard to register in pakistan, thats y lots of newly married women become easy target of these lusty fanatic people as the women and her family will never be able to give a lawfull proof of their marriage.. Even after so many years of independence, hindus are facing such inhuman discrimination in pakistan... shame of islam biased judiciary system of pakistan where minorities are tortured and law supports it... According to another report from pakistan itself 75% of hindu women face sexual harrasment by these fanatics... will u still say that the world is unfair in criticizing pakistan ? Dont u think the system itself is racist as by law no hindu how-so-ever capable he/she is will ever be allowed to be a prime-minister or president of pakistan ???? Y this religion based discrimination again hindus ? And I know that voting rights of hindus in pakistan are also not proper... There are many other facts that i could have given...but i think for the time being this much is enough for u to ponder upon n go through introspection.. Danish Bhat...
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