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#Be_a_man the Hashtag That Triggered Gender Rights Twitter Wars in Morocco

by in World on 9th August, 2018

A hashtag was started by one Moroccan male social media user, recently during the heatwave in Morocco calling all other men to ‘be a man’ and ensure their wives, sisters, daughters cover up, as many women dressed in bikinis on the beach. The sexist rhetoric went viral, encouraging men to dictate how women should dress. Only for the hashtag to be turned on its head when one male user, @AEnhalililook called on other men ‘to be a man’ by stopping violence against women. This triggered the social media wars in Morocco as the hashtag was once more revised, calling on women to hold on to their freedoms. Another hashtag #be_a_free_woman emerged where users urged other women, “don’t let other people tell you what to wear or not to who you have to be or not to #Morocco #wakeup.” According to news channel TRT World,  social media users were vehemently against the original hashtag which alluded to the fact that manhood was being defined in the context of how they can control women. Many female activists in Morocco, mobilised to create some sort of action, a petition was filed and signed calling on the Morrocan government to do something to stop the hashtag that was working to incite more violence and control against women in the region.

One activist stated,”The body of women in the public space seems to be disturbing more and more Moroccan men, some of whom allow themselves, with impunity, to ‘overplay’ a unacceptable role of moral police in the our country.”

In just 2018, Morocco passed a law which will hold perpetrators of violence against women accountable. Law no. 103-13 on combating violence against women. This was presented by Morocco’s government, bill number 103-13 on March 17, 2016, to the House of Representatives (first Parliamentary chamber).  Many activists in Morocco were largely dissatisfied with the law since it appears to cater to the rights of women, however, many loopholes can be found within it, such as the justification of marital rape, which many have argued, lacks sincerity.

The law itself by definition relays accountability will be expected for,“any act based on gender discrimination that entails physical, psychological, sexual, or economic harm to a woman.” However, the definition of domestic violence is largely still ambiguous, failing to explicitly criminalize marital rape.

According to Human Rights Watch, the law will increase penalties for forms of violence, and sexual violence in the penal code, when the acts occur within a family, new crimes include:

  • Forced marriage.
  • Squandering money or property to circumvent payment of maintenance for divorce.
  • Expelling or preventing a spouse from returning home.
  • Sexual harassment in public & cyberspaces.
Rothna Begum, Middle East and North Africa women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch said, “Morocco’s law on violence against women finally recognizes some forms of abuse that many women face from their husbands and families…But Morocco should address gaps to ensure that all survivors are protected from abuse, and police and prosecutors do their jobs.” According to an interview conducted by Human Rights Watch,  “45 people in Morocco, including 20 women and girls who had suffered domestic abuse, in September 2015… punched, kicked, burned, stabbed, or raped, or otherwise abused by their husbands or other family members.”

We want to hear from you. Let us know what you thin,  if you happen to know anyone who has been directly affected by the law, send us a pitch [email protected]

Amaliah Writes

Amaliah Writes

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