Moroccan women say they are abortion 'outlaws' in protest at journalist's trial

Fadel Senna, AFP | Demonstrators hold up a sign showing the portrait of jailed Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni outside a courthouse in the capital Rabat on September 9, 2019.

Hundreds of Moroccan women on Monday signed a manifesto stating that they have broken their country's "unfair" laws punishing extramarital relations and abortions.


The statement comes as a Moroccan female journalist stands trial for allegedly having sex outside of wedlock and illegally terminating a pregnancy.

"We, Moroccan citizens, declare that we are outlaws," the women said in the text published in Moroccan media outlets and due to appear in French daily Le Monde on Tuesday.

"We are violating unfair and obsolete laws," read the text, which was co-written by award-winning Franco-Moroccan author Leila Slimani.

"We are having sex outside wedlock. We are suffering, enabling or being complicit of abortion," declared its 490 signatories.

Article 490 of the penal code punishes sexual relations out of wedlock, while the law also forbids all abortions unless the mother's life is in danger.

Filmmaker Sonia Terrab, another co-author, said the signatories were "teachers, bankers, housewives, students, artists, and intellectuals".

Journalist Hajar Raissouni, 28, on Monday faced a third hearing in her trial over alleged sexual relations out of wedlock and "illegal abortion".

Raissouni, her Sudanese boyfriend, a doctor, a nurse, and a medical secretary remain in custody since being detained late last month.

Her doctor and two aides have been accused of performing an abortion and complicity in abortion.

Between 600 and 800 back-shop abortions occur each day in Morocco, according to estimates.

Last year, Morocco tried thousands of people for sex out of wedlock, 170 people for being gay, and 73 for pregnancy terminations.

In the early 1970s, in a similar text, French women calling themselves the "343 sluts" famously declared they had had an abortion when it was still illegal.


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