According to the BBC, two Moroccan women who were charged with ‘gross indecency’ for wearing miniskirts to a market in Morocco have been acquitted. Their release was entirely due to people taking a stand for their release and protection of the rights of all Moroccans to freedom and safety; regardless of the matter how they chose to dress. These two hairdresser women, aged 23 & 29, walked through a market, in the town of Inezgane near the holiday resort of Agadir, on their way to work. As they were passing by, a man accused them of wearing immoral clothes and drew the attention of others towards their clothing. They were then surrounded by a group of traders, who harassed these women and charged them with provocative clothing.[irp]
Then the police intervened and took them to a police station to save them from the angry crowd, but ended up arresting them for offending public morals. Later, they were presented before a court with the charge of gross indecency and public obscenity. They were facing charges under the article 483 of Moroccan Penal Code, which states that the one found guilty of committing ‘gross indecency’ can be imprisoned for up to two years. The pendulum swung the other way when this incident triggered a national outcry, as they gained the massive wave of support from lawyers and Human Rights activists. Hundreds of lawyers came forward to offer their assistance for these women.
This news brought thousands of people on streets asking for the charges to be dropped. Rallies were held in Agadir and in Casablanca for their release. A petition was signed by more than 27,000 people; it called on the authorities to ensure the provision of personal freedoms and claimed that “Wearing a dress is not a crime” in Morocco. Moroccan citizens claim that they have the right to freedom of movement and security regardless of their attire. Moreover, a Twitter storm has been observed with thousands of tweets in support of these women. Posts on social media with the slogan ‘Wearing a dress is not a crime’ have gone viral.
Their lawyer Houcine Bekkar Sbai, said their acquittal is a victory not only for these two women but for all members of civil society who mobilized. The next step will be to prosecute those who harassed and assaulted them. We have already filed a complaint. He also emphasized on bringing amendments in penal code 483 in order to criminalize ‘violence against women’.[irp]
Also, there was a controversy in May when a Jennifer Lopez performance in Morocco was called a serious delinquency and sexually suggestive, due to the indecent dance moves and bold costumes. This music celebration was attended by more than 150,000 in the capital city of Rabat. Jennifer Lopez, along with her promoter faced a serious legal situation after this concert which was broadcast on one of the Morocco’s public television stations. An education group filed a case claiming that her performance tarnished women honor and respect.
Source: Arab News