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The Family Code, 5 Years Later
The reform of the Family Code in 2004, at the king’s decision, has stirred up a number of polemics, as the new Code, in comparison with the old Mudawwana, gives women greater autonomy. Still today this reform has few followers and even as mentalities begin to change in Morocco, numerous opponents of women’s emancipation are making themselves known, including to the rather conservative magistrates in the kingdom.
Mores have made woman the property of man. The former Family Code stipulated that the man was the sole head of the family and that the woman must obey him. The new law, adopted 5 years ago, makes woman equal to man in the family context. The result: from now on, a woman may request a divorce without her husband’s approval; a man’s repudiation of his wife is rendered illegal—the spouse must be consulted and the request for a divorce deposed before a judge. The same goes for polygamy—it is not forbidden but has been made conditional upon the decision of the court.
But it is easier to change law than to change mores. If polygamy has almost disappeared, the marriage of minors made up one tenth of all marriages in 2007. 5 years after the passage of the new Family Code, the opposition is always there, even from within the judicial system itself. The influx of cases, the lack of organization, the often conservative magistrates who see to it that the text is not applied where it ought to be…
The Ministry of Justice says it takes time to effect this change in mentality. But feminists fear that the powers that be lack the political will to make women’s emancipation a priority.
Comment: Nabia Hadouche, President of the Democratic Association for the Women of Morocco