Morocco: Recommendations from the international conference “Moroccan Women from Morocco and Abroad”

The conference took place in the context of a surge in extremism and the presentation of the reform draft of the Moroccan Family Law “Moudawana” prepared by the consultative commission to the King.
“Moroccan Women from Morocco and Abroad” was held on 26-28 September 2003 in Casablanca, with Moroccan women participating from Belgium, France, Holland, Switzerland, England, Corsica, Canada, the USA, Germany and Spain, in addition to Morocco and was organised by CIOFEM (Moroccan Women Information and Observation Center) working under the umbrella of LDDF (Democratic League for Women’s Rights).
The participants expressed their reservations on the composition of the commission, and considered that any Moudawana reform must be based on the equality principle between men and women before, during and after marriage.

Bilateral and multilateral agreements must refer to that very equality principle.

The following recommendations were drawn from the proceedings of the conference:

A) As regards international conventions and bilateral agreements:

The participants highlighted the dilemma in which many Moroccan men and women with two nationalities find themselves. One of the main causes is the conflict between the law applied in Morocco and the one applied abroad, and the general incapacity to take women's situations in concrete terms into account.

For example, there are many cases for which the judge declares that the divorce of Moroccans living abroad is within his jurisdiction. This situation is aggravated by lack of information and confusion as to which rules are applied, all of which lack transparency.

1. The participants recommended the revision of bilateral and multilateral conventions and of any provision contradicting international commitments of host countries (CEDAW, the Hague Convention, Child Rights Convention), in order to respect equality between men and women, and the status of the child.

Within the framework of Euro-Mediterranean partnership, concrete measures should be taken to apply article 2 of the law of individual rights, and control its application by European institutions, and draw upon the Copenhagen procedure. These measures should be a prerequisite to economic agreements. A follow up committee should also be set up to deal with the application of these measures.

2. To develop within the European Council cooperative relations with Maghreb countries according to terms of reference similar to the model applied to countries which became members of the European Council.

3. As it is the case in Spain (Law of March 14th, 2003), official domicile law in family law matters should be generalized to all Moroccan men and women living abroad. Setting up a mediator of a mediation council in each country made up of representatives from host countries and immigrants to deal with the sometimes complex impacts of this recommendation.

4. to launch along with the ministries of foreign affairs, embassies, and consulates an information campaign targeting concerned individuals, using adequate languages, on spouses rights and duties in the case of marriage between individuals from the same country or belonging to different countries.

B) As regards marriage provisions:

5. Concerning the marriage contract;

- to exact the two parties consent to marriage;
- to increase marriage age to 18 years for both sexes (majority age);
- to abolish tutelage without any restriction;
- to abolish polygamy.

6. Concerning mixed marriages:

- to allow the children to acquire their mother’s nationality;
- to allow the children to acquire their mother’s name when the absence of the father has been recognised.

7. Concerning filiation

- to resort to genetic analysis to prove parents filiation.

C) As regards marriage contract breaking off:

8. to abolish repudiation and institute judiciary divorce for both sexes after due hearing of the parties

9. to grant child custody to the parent who is most able. Remarriage or moving should not be detrimental to the right of the most able parent.

10. to guarantee to the wife the sharing of propriety acquired during marriage, whatever her situation, wage-earning or housewife. To grant marital home to the parent with child custody.

11. to abide by the Hague Convention ratified by Morocco dealing with child abduction.

12. to widen Moroccan family courts jurisdiction to encompass all aspects related to family law (divorce, child custody, alimony)

To conclude, action strategies are as follows:

In addition to the objectives already mentioned in the recommendations, the Moroccan Women from Morocco and Abroad Conference advocates:

- The setting up of a network of Moroccan Women from Morocco and Abroad, with an action plan for each country as well as at the regional and international levels, which will coordinate action and information.

- This network will also be entrusted with the task of informing official entities (judges, the police, consulate bodies, education bodies, social services) and public opinion. In that respect, publications on women’s rights and applied legislation are to be recommended.

- This network will strengthen the lobbying action already launched by the Euro-Mediterranean network (Euromed).

Women’s rights associations should take part in the implementation of these recommendations and actively participate in preparing information and awareness raising material needed by all Moroccan women in Morocco and abroad.

For more information contact LDDF