2017-22: Child marriages in Morocco

The project “Combating Child Marriage in Morocco” by KVINFO’s partner Droit & Justice (D&J) in Morocco aims to prevent and combat child marriage through awareness raising and legal amendments and reforms.

Facts about the project

Local partner: Droit et Justice.

Country: Morocco.

Thematic area: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

Background

Child marriage is on the rise in Morocco. Despite reforms adopted by the 2004 Family Code (Moudawana) thousands of girls, some of them as young as 13 years, are married every year. The legal age is 18.

This is possible, because of loopholes in the Family Code. It allows judges to authorize marriages below 18 in certain circumstances. This was meant as an exception, but is widely used.

Child marriages has doubled from 18.000 cases in 2004 to over 35.000 in 2014. 99.5% of the marriages relate to minor girls under 18 years. In 2017, UNICEF estimated that 16 percent of all Moroccan girls are married before the age of 18.

Danish-Arab Partnership Programme

KVINFO's programme in the Middle East and North Africa is financed by:

 

However, organizations working in this field, estimate that these numbers are much higher. For instance because a lot of religious marriages are taking place, and they are often not officially registered.

Getting married off young is most common in rural areas, but is also outspread in urban cities especially among rural populations that move to the cities. However, it is also seen in rich and poor parts of the Moroccan society, as it is often taking place due to a mixture of culture, tradition and religious norms.

Economic reasons also often underpin the decision of marriage which is directly linked to poverty and lack of economic opportunities for girls. This means girls are often viewed as an economic burden for the family. The family’s honor is also used as a valid reason to justify underage marriages – the marriages are a way to avoid premarital sex and children outside marriage. Other reasons are lack of access to school, lack of awareness on child marriage consequences, and the lack of economic opportunities for girls dropping out of school.

The work of D&J is specifically focused on four regions out of 12 in Morocco: Casablanca-Settat, Rabat-Zemmour, Béni mellal/Khénifra and Tanger-Tetouan.

Project activities

D&J is working to reduce and eliminate underage marriages in two ways: 1) Raising awareness among minors, youth, their communities (parents, educators), as well as judges and religious leaders of each of the target regions. 2) Advocating for amendment of the current laws amond decision makers such as parliamentarians.

Component 1: Raise awareness

  • Awareness sessions for minors aged 13-18 in rural areas of Morocco, potential victims of child marriage, parents, educators on the consequences of child marriage in the four target regions.
  • D&J train young boys and girls on sex education and on how to to become a child marriage-change-agent and advocate against child marriage in their local communities in the four target regions.
  • The aim is to also to raise awareness among religious leaders and adults on the consequences of child marriage and discuss the religious misconception and misinterpretations in the rural areas that contribute to the rise of child marriage among illiterate poor communities.

Component 2: Promote amendments of current legislation and new law proposals

  • Raise awareness among judges who are in charge of granting child marriage approvals in the four target regions and encouraging them to better apply the current law while taking into account all the consequences and repercussions of their decision on the minor girls.
  • Launch media campaigns with participation of public singers and with the help of an institutional video among the press and a network of NGOs.
  • The push for reforms happens through meetings and public debates. This is for instance with decisions makers such as parliamentarians, on consequences and repercussions of the current law.
  • Monitor the progress of child marriage in the four regions through data collection from family courts.
  • Preparing for the launch of a national study. The aim is to identify the region with the highest rate and that is most receptive for a future condensed awareness efforts through the development and implementation a new pilot project, and to advocate on a national and international level against child marriage in Morocco.