Maghreb organisations seek end to domestic violence
By Mohamed Saadouni in Casablanca and Nazim Fethi in Algiers for Magharebia – 30/07/12
Violence against women is rampant across the Maghreb, according to recent findings.
Sixty per cent of Moroccan women are victims of physical abuse, Solidarity, Women and Family Minister Bassima Hakkoui said on July 2nd. About six million women between the ages of 18-45 endured some form of violence, the minister said in Skhirat.
The rising numbers are due to illiteracy, poverty, educational level and complex of inferiority among women, the minister explained.
Almost two-thirds of cases occur in urban areas, the High Planning Commission concluded in a recent study.
"It is difficult to control the rates of sexual, physical and psychological violence against girls and women out of wedlock and in the public space because it has become a reality we live on a daily basis," said Atifa Tamjerdine, the co-ordinator of the National Network of Listening Centres for Women Victims of Violence, "Anaruz".
Half of the cases of violence against married women are acts of sexual abuse.
"Violence against women takes many forms, such as sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape, and this, in my view, infringes on one of the fundamental human rights," Tamjerdine told Magharebia.
Underage marriage is a growing phenomenon in Morocco, according to Tamjerdine. Thirty-six per cent of girls under 18 seek help at listening centres.
Marital rape is another form of violence that Moroccan women endure, according to Moroccan Association for Women's Rights (AMDF) chief Najat Razi.
The rising numbers prove that women have been able to communicate their voice and suffering, Democratic League for Women's Rights (LDDF) chief Fouzia Assouli told Magharebia.
She called for a comprehensive law to combat gender-based violence.
"The masculine view is dominant, unfortunately," she said. "Even when matters reach the policeman, the judge and the lawyer, they ask: 'What's wrong? Your husband hit you. It's just your husband.' As though the husband hitting the wife is commonplace, accepted and a duty!"
Algeria's Wassila network has published a book about violence against women.
Statistics on gender violence, "remain inaccurate, given that they cover a period of no more than six months", said sociologist Dalila Djerbal, a member of the network.
Many women "avoid reporting it" out of fear of divorce and physical violence, said Djafri Djadi, who chairs the Algerian Observatory of Women (OAF).
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