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Morocco faces calls to change law after suicide of teen forced to marry rapist

Abdelhak Senna / AFP - Getty Images

Fouzia Assouli, president of Morocco's Democratic League for Women's Rights, and 300 other protesters stage a sit-in Thursday outside the local court in Larache that had approved the marriage of Amina al-Filali, 16, who drank rat poison last week after being forced to marry the man who raped her.

Online outrage spread Thursday with calls for Morocco to change its laws for women after the suicide of Amina Filali, a 16-year-old girl who was forced to marry her rapist, who beat her.

The government says changes are in the works.

Among the comments, most in Arabic or French, posted to Facebook pages: “We are all Amina Filali” and “RIP Amina.”

“Amina must be the last,” said the translation of one commenter identified as Nouri Rupert.

“Repeal immediately paragraph 2 of Article 475,” said Aniko M.E. Boehler near Marrakesh.

"We are all Amina Filali" Facebook page

Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code allows for the "kidnapper" of a minor to marry his victim to escape prosecution, The Associated Press reported.

"The article 475 is an embarrassment to Morocco's international image of modernity and democracy," Fouzia Assouli, president of the Democratic League for Women's Rights, or LDDF, told the BBC.

"In Morocco, the law protects public morality but not the individual," Assouli said, adding that legislation outlawing all forms of violence against women, including rape within marriage, has been held up since 2006.

A sit-in is planned at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Parliament in Rabat, according to some posters, including SlutWalk Morocco on Facebook.

A Tweet says men and women will protest Saturday

"This is a painful incident ... This is an issue we can't afford to ignore," Communication Minister and government spokesman Mustafa el-Khalfi said, Reuters reported.

"She was raped twice -- once by the rapist and the second time by marrying him ... We plan harsher sentences against rapists and we will launch ... a debate about law 475 to reform it," he told reporters.

In conservative parts of Morocco, it is unacceptable for a woman to lose her virginity before marriage - and the dishonor is hers and her family's even if she is raped, the BBC reported.

Filali came from the small northern town of Larache, near Tangiers.

The legal age of marriage in Morocco is 18, but the law allows for special circumstances.

Filali's father, Lachen Filali, told the online newspaper goud.ma that when he reported his daughter’s rape, "the prosecutor advised my daughter to marry; he said: 'Go and make the marriage contract.’”

When Amina Filali later told her family her husband was beating her, local media said, her mother told her to be patient.

She took rat poison and died Saturday after six months of marriage.

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