In 2004, the Moroccan parliament installed significant changes in the country’s family code, or Moudawana, in the area of women’s rights.
The reforms included:
- The right for a woman to divorce
- Raising the legal age of marriage from 15 to 18 (but with a small provision to allow judge exceptions)
- Women are not longer required by law to obey their husband
- A woman can be awarded custody of her children
At the crux of the women’s movement that demanded these changes was a million signature campaign, enumerating reform in the context of Islamic doctrine, not western feminism.
Five years after the reforms were instated, some traditionalists still fear that with greater rights in marriage come greater rates of divorce. However, statistics by Morocco’s Justice Ministry have shown the opposite. In fact, the rate of marriage has increased by 30 percent while the rate of divorce has only increased by a mere 3 percent.
Many rights advocates believe Morocco’s success will inspire similar movements in other Islamic countries.
Vital Voices Global Advisory Councilmember and member of Moroccan parliament Dr. Latifa Jbabd is excited by the change. She said,
“This little window that was opened by Islamists in parliament has become a huge door [for women].”