How This Week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Can Help End Violence Against Women in Morocco

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While Morocco has amended a law that allowed rapists to escape punishment by marrying their victims if they are younger than 18, there are still numerous legal and procedural ways in which it actively discriminates against women and girls (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty International USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summit occurring August 4-6th, 2014. We are utilizing the series to highlight human rights concerns on the continent we feel critically need to be addressed during the summit discussions.

Contributed by Jihane Bergaoui, Amnesty International Country Specialist for Morocco and the Western Sahara

This week, President Obama will welcome nearly every African head of state to Washington, D.C. for the first ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. As one of America’s oldest and most strategically important allies, Morocco is expected to participate in the conference.

Morocco’s continuous efforts to appear as one of the region’s most stable and progressive countries provide human rights activists and U.S. government officials a unique opportunity to successfully pressure Morocco to end violence against women.

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SHOCKING: Gang-Raped Woman in Indonesia Faces Caning for Adultery

A crowd watches as a woman is caned by a sharia police officer dressed in black robes at a public square in Aceh, Indonesia's only province that practices partial sharia law (Photo Credit: Riza Lazuardi/AFP/Getty Images).

A crowd watches as a woman is caned by a sharia police officer dressed in black robes at a public square in Aceh, Indonesia’s only province that practices partial sharia law (Photo Credit: Riza Lazuardi/AFP/Getty Images).

By Claudia Vandermade, Amnesty USA Southeast Asia Co-Group Chair and Action Network Coordinator 

Yes – you read this blog title correctly. Maybe you shook your head, gasped, blinked your eyes and re-read it. The answer to your sputtered question is: Shari’a laws in Aceh, Indonesia.

On May 1, a group of eight men stormed into the woman’s house in Langsa district, accused her of having an affair with a married man, gang-raped her and beat her male companion. Now, she may face being caned a maximum of nine times for the crime of adultery.

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This Mother’s Day, What More Can be Done to Help End Violence Against Women and Girls Globally?

The International Violence Against Women Act introduced yesterday in the Senate would make legislation ending violence against women a diplomatic and foreign assistance priority for the U.S. government (Photo Credit: Sarah K. Eddy).

The International Violence Against Women Act introduced yesterday in the Senate would make legislation ending violence against women a diplomatic and foreign assistance priority for the U.S. government (Photo Credit: Sarah K. Eddy).

The eyes of the world are currently focused on Nigeria and the efforts to free the nearly 300 schoolgirls currently held captive by Boko Haram. The abduction of these girls is yet another deeply disturbing example of the ways in which violence against girls and women affects every aspect of their lives, in this case, their right to education.

Even as we work to #BringBackOurGirls in Nigeria, we continue to press for a permanent solution to end violence against women and girls globally.

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate took an action that would help.

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HAPPENING NOW: Mozambique Debating Rape-Marriage Legislation

This month, Mozambique’s Parliament debates proposed revisions to Article 223 of the country’s Criminal Code which would allow rapists to escape punishment if they marry the survivor of the rape (Photo Credit: AFP/GettyImages).

This month, Mozambique’s Parliament debates proposed revisions to Article 223 of the country’s Criminal Code which would allow rapists to escape punishment if they marry the survivor of the rape (Photo Credit: AFP/GettyImages).

Imagine if you reported a rape, only to discover the law is on the side of your rapist.

A couple months ago, we shared the story of Amina Filali, a 16-year-old girl in Morocco who was forced to marry the man who raped her. Months after being married, Amina committed suicide by swallowing rat poison. Amina’s death caused an outcry in Morocco and throughout the region.

In January, nearly two years after Amina’s death, the widely-criticized clause in Morocco’s Penal Code sanctioning the marriage was finally abolished.

But elsewhere in Africa, the struggle is far from over.

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