Religion, women and the police – OpEd – Eurasia Review

Mistrust in police institutions is an international phenomenon. Walking through the streets of Morocco, one may notice the occasional wall with the word ‘ACAB’, an acronym meaning ‘All policemen are bastards’, scrawled in graffiti. Given that France’s ACAB movement has some roots in policing ethnic profiling and the US version of the movement based on systemic discrimination against people of color, particularly black men, it begs the question of what the graffiti hints at. ACAB from Morocco for a change. With only 3/100 women survivors of sexual violence seeking help from the police in Morocco today, a culture of normalizing the marginalization of women in public spheres, coupled with the only somewhat constructive religious and political efforts made by the Moroccan government, shed light on the problems sociopolitical. in Morocco.

Being the gender inequality index of Morocco .Four. Five As of 2019, the physical, psychological and economic violence suffered by women is affirmed. The negative vision of men about women is developed in public and family spaces, in which association between femininity and disgust is formed. In this way, assaulting women by verbal or physical means is, according to Violence against women in public spaces: the case of Morocco, “a way for men to publicly demonstrate their virility and dominance over women and space.” In public spaces, the women’s movement is repressed when they face sexual, psychological, verbal and physical attacks outside the home; and in an institutional sense, women are more like experience identity checks by the police. This type of oppression allows the normalization of the dispossession of women’s rights. Women feel this cruelty all their lives: when asked a single mother at university living in Beni-Mellal when she first became aware of the restriction of her movement in public spaces, especially at night, she replied “ Always”.

Despite the apparent omnipresence of the police in Morocco, as seen through the police checkpoints maintained by the traffic police throughout the country, only 8/100 women experiencing domestic violence report the incident to the police. This problem of not filing complaints has two aspects: the social shame of being divorced and the fear of being blamed by the police for the incident. Often the female survivor is to blame in cases of violence. In some cases, the woman is ignored or banned from traveling, while in others she is seen as hysterical and her job may be in jeopardy. Also, due to the #MeToo movement, the vilification of women because showing up has infiltrated the subconscious of Moroccan minds. In fact, just 1/10 women Survivors around the world report their abuse to the police, but many withdraw their reports due to poor police response. Reporting, through the use of politics or power, determines how respected a reported incident will be.

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Although culture and religion are the main principles that sustain Moroccan society, efforts in those spheres advocating for women’s rights have proven to be only slightly beneficial in the area of ​​gender-based violence. In article 51 of the Moroccan Family Code, the teachings of the Koran preach the importance of both spouses sharing a series of obligations, including coexistence, family rights and fidelity. Due to the patriarchal society of Morocco, the religion of Islam is often manipulated by men for their benefit and pleasure, denying women their rights. Instead of interpreting the text as a sign of mutual respect and collaboration in the private sphere, men tend to believe that, under the guise of religion, that women should have sex with men, regardless of consent or lack of consent. Although parts of the Koran proclaim the equality between women and men, as well as revenge of men who oppress or harass women, Muslim scholars today believe that women who attempt to deny sexual relations with their husbands are damned.

King Mohammad VI’s response to religious manipulation degrading women’s rights turned out to be only somewhat constructive. In 2004, the King adapted the Family Code, known as Moudawana. This text conveys that women have the right to self-protection and divorce, while at the same time guaranteeing the legal sanction of those who sexually harass women. In 2018, another law was added that made the sexual assault and exploitation of women illegal, known as Law 103-13. Despite the apparently favorable nature of the law, the code did not change the Criminal Code provision on rape, including the acceptance of marital rape. In response, the reporting rate of incidents of violence against women remains 1 in 10

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After the promulgation of Law 103-13 in 2018, the General Directorate of National Security, with the help of UN Women, planned a program with the objective of preventing, protecting and responding to violence and inequality of women. The program, entitled “Prevention and improved responses for women victims in Morocco”, restructured the Police Units for Women Victims of Violence in all the main police stations in Morocco from December 2019 to April 2021. According to the head of the Police Unit Police of the Prefecture of Casablanca for Women Victims of Violence, the most difficult part of the process of a woman experiencing violence is reporting it to the police. For this reason, in this agenda, the partners organized and executed the formation of 160 magistrates on Law 103-13, supported 20 non-governmental organizations in raising awareness, as well as police training on survivor-centered and trauma-informed approaches. The Police Units for Women Victims of Violence were trained to listen, refer and record cases so that the experience of going to the police for help is as beneficial and comfortable as possible. During the COVID pandemic, free 24-hour helplines and online court sessions were set up to continue service for women facing violence at unique times.

Despite the action of the General Directorate of National Security and UN Women, as the COVID pandemic spread throughout Morocco, many women isolated themselves in their homes with their oppressor, as 46% of women They affirm that the domestic sphere is the most violent space for them. With this circumstance, gender equality and women’s rights deteriorated severely, with 1 in 4 women experiencing physical violence during the peak of the pandemic between May 2022 and April 2022.

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Although the King and members of the government have made political and religious efforts, great progress is still needed for women to finally break out of the cycle of violence and exercise their rights. In 2020, at least 57% of Moroccan women have suffered some type of violence, with 9% of them are girls between 12 and 17 years old. In addition, many women fear going to the police after experiencing cases of rape outside of marriage due to the criminal and taboo nature of having sex outside of marriage. Women continue to be demoted for speaking out on religious and cultural grounds, while police also continue to dismiss cases of violence against women. As these statistics show, further changes in police behavior are needed to end gender-based violence in Morocco. Since coming forward to report violence is the most difficult step for women, building trust in the police is an important area of ​​focus when reforming the police, which would help prevent crime and increase community safety. Professionally educate all police officers through intensive training in trauma-informed care and referrals to psychosocial services. will convince women to report abuse. In addition, the media should be more transparent, offering information about the triumphs and exploits of police handling of survivors.

Religion, the police and culture are factors in Moroccan society that influence women to avoid seeking justice after experiencing violence. Changing cultural stigmas and religious interpretations is difficult to achieve, but regulations and laws are more malleable. Gender-based violence, along with women’s mistrust of the police, is not a new phenomenon in Morocco. Aiming for police reform to be more community-oriented, and thus build a relationship of trust between institutions and people, is the first step in a possible change in the arena of abuse of women in Morocco.

Sabine Stratmann is a student at the University of Virginia and a fellow at the High Atlas Foundation in Morocco.