In a bid to combat increased tensions following a few major incidents this year, and after years of advocacy by women’s rights groups, Morocco has just passed a law criminalizing violence against women and sexual harassment.
The new bill was certainly long awaited—according to a national government survey, almost 63 percent of women aged 18-65 in the Kingdom have experienced physical and sexual violence.
The new law—which was approved by the Moroccan House of Representatives on February 14and went into effect just last week—criminalises certain forms of domestic violence, and established forced marriage, sexual harassment and cyber harassment as crimes, imposing harsher penalties on perpetrators.
The law, known as Hakkaoui law, which was named after Women’s Minister Bassima Hakkaoui who first drafted in 2013, also includes preventative measures with programs set to be put in place to increase awareness.
While the new measures are a considerable victory for Moroccan women, the law has been criticized by Human Rights Watch for using vague language when defining domestic violence and failing to address certain issues, in particular martial rape.