Moroccan Family Law, one reason marriage scares men
Writer: Omar Bihmidine
The Moroccan Family Code, or what is known as the Mudawana, is originally about guaranteeing women’s rights, particularly with regard to the repercussions of divorce, marital problems, marriage age, inheritance and gender equality. On the one hand, we must admit this is a great stride in empowering women in Moroccan society. But, one the other hand, Moroccan men continue to lash out at the amendments and changes made. Whereas women celebrate the move made by the civili society and the Moroccan king, men continue to cry over the unexpected changes and some of them hesitate to marry more than ever before.
The Family Law has always been there . However, the changes, men claim, threaten their stability in marriage and life. Upon divorce, the husband is obliged to divide the assets with his spouse. It is true that the move is meant to guarantee divorced women security compared to the past when men controled everything and would divorce whenever they pleased and with no price to pay.
Levant TV has recently talked to both single and married men in Morocco. The majority of men strongly disagree with the changes even though they are signs of women empowerment and equality between men and women. ” Because of this family code, our spouses try to control everything, knowing that the law will grant them their rights to a dignifidd livelihood for her and children. This a good sign. But not all men can provide for that. Fear of marriage has been common, due to the new conditions,” Slimane, a father of four, said. ” That’s one reason many homes are henpecked. Men prefer to stay married with problems than face the divorce and the bad consequences, ” Sliman added.
Even though the Moroccan Family Law was rewritten in 2004, inequality between men and women is still rampant, particularly in rural areas. As we know, the Family Law forbids practising polygamy without getting consent from the spouse. Yet, according to the Minustry of Justice and Freedoms, a number of men have been caught married to more than one wife, which is a blow to the dignity and status of women. ” This new law is full of issues. How come polygamy is still the case even when most wives rarely agree to their husbands getting a new wife?” Fatima, a mother of two kids, told Levant TV. ” Thanks to our king Mohamed VI, a lot has been done for us. But when it comes to practice, corruption denies us our rights to living well,” she added.
Despite being an epoch-making step forward, the Family Code doesn’t necessarily guarantee women’s rights as it purports to grant on the ground. Think of how many divorced women who don’t receive alimony just because their partners can’t afford that. After divorce, some married men end up facing imprisonment threats, due to failing to provide for the wife and their children. Is that what a family code is for? Fixing social problems or evading them? To fight underage marriage, for instance, the law raised the minimum marriage age from 15 to 18. Yet, many girls in remote areas, including Zagora, Tinghir and Ouarzazate, still get married at 16 and 17. So, the code needs serious actions.
“Marriage is more secure for our daughters than schooling is. What if our daughters are educated but not married? ” Abdelatif, a father of three daughters, told Levant TV. ” This is why marrying them off no matter what age is the best option, ” Abdelatif added. Despite promising more positive changes to the quality of married lives and the status of women, the proof is still in the pudding. Among the reasons the family law fails to address the real issues in society is that there is a strong conflict between the attitude of people, particularly men, and what the amendments aim at. To strengthen social ties, we have to educate women first. Illiteracy among women hinders the application of the law.
Let us not forget to reiterate that men strongly oppose the reform. One reason is that they think liberating women is a stumbling block to the quality of a married life. Yet, the crux of the issue is that the family code doesn’t take into account the education background of women, which pushes some wives to revolt against their husbands instead of calling for their rights through education, not ignorance or force.
It is true that the Family Law guarantees women a number of rights. But I think one amendment is absent from this code. It is affording to marry first ( a stable job and a flat). A relative of mine who lives in Belgium told Levant TV that Belgians don’t have the right to marry until they can afford it. It’s a law.
Can’t we, for instance, have this law to reduce social problems? Of course not! Since many Arabs think cure is better than prevention, while Belgians think that prevention is better than cure. Here, prevention is affording marriage, while cure is finding solutions to divorce, single mothers, street children and broke couples. It is unfortunate that without having a culture of assuming responsibility for our children and being serious, any law of family can’t hold together for long.