In Morocco, the law provides that marriage can be contracted from the age of eighteen. Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code, however, provides an exception; paragraph 2 of the article stipulates that, in the case of the rape of, or violence against, a minor, the guilty party can escape the penalty provided for in paragraph 1 if the victim's family agrees to grant her in marriage to the man in question. He may be prosecuted, therefore, only by those who have the authority to call for the marriage to be annulled and only after the judgment of annulment has been delivered.
This practice is often implemented, especially in the more peripheral areas of the country where the loss of a woman's virginity before marriage, even if it is the result of violence, is seen as an act of shame and dishonour to the family of the victim and the victim herself.
As shown in its reply to Written Question E‑003314/2012, the Commission is aware of this state of affairs and one of its priorities is to support the reform of the penal code and the adoption of a law on marital violence. Considering, however, that at the meetings of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Democratisation and Governance and of the Association Council, matters relating to Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code were not explicitly addressed, can the Commission say how the talks are progressing and whether Morocco is genuinely becoming more open to the idea of truly reforming its legislative system?
EUR 45 million has been allocated for the period 2012-2015 in support of the Moroccan Government's Gender Equality Action Plan. However essential the support that the EU can give to non-member countries may be — including financial support — does the Commission not agree that it may be counter-productive to implement a policy of economic assistance in this area when the government concerned has not yet shown that it is capable of genuinely amending its internal legislation concerning the protection of women's rights? Can the Commission say how these funds will be used?