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Cablegate: Morocco: Taking Steps Against Domestic Violence

VZCZCXRO6606
RR RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHRB #1868/01 3541126
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201126Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7922
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 3776

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RABAT 001868

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR G/WI, DRL, MEPI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWMN MO PHUM PREL
SUBJECT: MOROCCO: TAKING STEPS AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

1. Summary: Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi launched the Fifth
National Campaign to Eliminate Violence against Women on
November 30 in Rabat, marking the International Day for the
Elimination of Violence against Women. For the first time,
the Government of Morocco (GOM) released official statistics
on domestic violence, having documented more than 17,000
incidents in 2006-2007. This year, the two week campaign was
built around the theme of "Mobilizing Youth in the Fight
against Violence on Women." The Ministry of Social
Development Family and Solidarity is in the lead. End
Summary.

2. The GOM's anti-violence publicity campaign was conducted
from November 30 until December 17, and included a variety of
TV and radio spots. A "sensitivity caravan" was organized
in collaboration with the UNFPA and the Canadian
International Development Agency and distributed information
during multi-media presentations in eight cities (Rabat,
Casablanca, Fez, Beni Mellal, Oujda, Marrakech, Safi, and
Ouarzazate.) Two days were dedicated to public awareness
raising of the problem with roundtables for youth organized
in coordination with local associations and regional
educational and training academies in Fez, Casablanca, and
Marrakech.

3. In his opening remarks, PM El Fassi announced the launch
of a National Observatory to Eliminate Violence Against Women
to act as a coordination mechanism for governmental and
non-governmental institutions working to assist female
victims of violence. El Fassi also announced that his
government will table two substantial reforms, a bill that
will criminalize domestic violence (already pending before
Parliament) and another that will address the illegal
practice of employing underage girls as child domestic
servants.

4. During the November 30 event, the Ministry of Social
Development, Families, and Solidarity reported that marital
violence, a category that includes all forms of physical,
sexual, economic, and psychological violence by the husband,
accounted for 82 percent of the 17,511 reported cases of
violence from 2006 to 2007. This is the first time that
official numbers on violence against women have been
published. Other statistics put forth during the conference
show that 44 percent of Moroccan women who are victims of
violence are between 18 and 24 years old, and 35 percent are
between 25 and 34 years old. About three-fourths of the
victims are housewives. Fifty-eight percent of people filing
complaints said they had been victims of violence for several
months and 37 percent said they have been victims for many
years.

5. One week prior to the launching of the National Campaign,
a women's NGO, the Democratic League of Women's Rights
(LDDH), published a report on the first half of 2007 which
stated that over 96 percent of the cases of violence against
women were committed by a close relative. It showed that
housewives comprised 57 percent of registered victims of
violence, and that 88 percent of the battered women were
between the ages of 18 and 48. The report also indicated
that what it termed economic violence (the failure to meet
familial or child support financial obligations), represented
37.31 percent of the cases, while physical violence ranked
second at 22.75 percent. (Note: Governmental and
non-governmental agencies are working to resolve
discrepancies in the statistics. End Note.)

6. Clinical Psychologist Nadia Cherkaoui said that the level
of tolerance for violence against women in Morocco remains
extremely high. She explained that in most cases women seek
help only when their lives or those of their children are
threatened. This means that the majority of incidents are
un-reported.

7. Long considered a culturally taboo subject, the GOM only
began addressing violence against women publicly (albeit
timidly) in 1998. In 2001, the Ministry of Social
Development, Families, and Solidarity began to develop a
national anti-violence strategy in collaboration with civil
society and with support from UNFPA, UNIFEM and the UNDP.
The collaboration helped usher in reforms such as the revised
family code and the creation of abuse assistance centers.
New Minister of Social Development, Families, and Solidarity,
Nouzha Skalli has said that combating violence against women
is her top priority, but she and her Ministry are hampered by
a lack of financial and technical resources.

8. In addition to Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi, a number of
senior members of the government attended the conference.
Among them were Minister of Labor and Professional Training

RABAT 00001868 002 OF 002


Jamal Aghmani, Minister of National Education Ahmed
Akhchichine, Minister Delegate of Modernizing the Public
Sector Mohammed Abbou, and a representative of the Royal
Gendarmerie. Over a dozen Human Rights and Women's NGOs were
also represented, including Union Action Feminine (UAF),
Association Marocaine des Droits de l'Homme (AMDH), and
Association Marocaine des Droits de la Femme (ADFM).

9. Comment: Violence against women represents the most
visible evidence of the continuing struggle for gender
equality in Morocco. The GOM appears to be addressing it in
a sincere and constructive fashion, but is hampered by a lack
of resources, an outmoded legal system and lagging social
attitudes about the role of women in society. We believe the
issue of domestic violence in Morocco offers significant
potential programming opportunities for DRL and MEPI funds.
End Comment.


*****************************************
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website;
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/rabat
*****************************************

Jackson

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