Op-Ed Draft – Lelebxby


Protesters holding portraits of incarcerated journalist Hajar Raissouni outside Morocco’s capital courthouse. (September 9th, 2019)

Policing One’s Morality

The Moroccan government allowing the sentences of Rifaat al-Amin and Hajar Raissouni to years of incarceration for having premarital sex and receiving an abortion enables the unjustifiable act of policing one’s morality. In the United States, abortion has always been an issue held on by a single thread by those who believe it’s the woman’s choice while others think it’s the woman’s responsibility to conceive that new life. Though there are some restrictions, we are lucky enough to live in a country that allows it’s citizens the freedom to choose. Meanwhile on the other side of the world, countless innocents in Morocco don’t have any say in the matter. On August 31st, 2019, a Moroccan judge found the journalist Hajar Raissouni and her fiance, Rifaat al-Amin guilty of not only an accused abortion, but also having premarital sex. They were sentenced each one year in prison and the doctor who performed the abortion, Jamal Belkeziz, two years of incarceration. 

Prior to the sentence, hundreds of Moroccans signed a manifesto demanding the legalization of abortion and sex outside of marriage. Additionally, in 2016, the Parliament was to consider amendments allowing abortions in cases of incest and rape, but never followed through. Though in Morocco it is illegal to get an abortion, it is reported by the AMLAC that daily, there are an estimated 600-800 illegal abortions conducted. Furthermore, just last year there were 73 people arrested in regards to illegal abortions, both giving and receiving.

Evidently, Moroccan society is very conservative and is known for sticking to it’s religious roots. The main piece in the abortion argument are of those who follow the Quran, saying abortions done 120 days after the pregnancy is wrong. Furthermore, a child born outside of marriage in Morocco can end up without a national identity card, which restricts access to an education and health facilities. However, it’s unacceptable for a country with over 36 million people to have such uncompromising restrictions when it comes to abortion and premarital sex laws. Besides rape and incest, there are countless other cases where a woman is not qualified to take care of a child, even as simple as a financial incapability or more serious matters of mental and physical disabilities.

It shouldn’t be up to the government whether or not a woman is allowed to get an abortion or have sex before marriage. In doing so, it polices peoples morals by creating double standards and silences those from speaking about trauma in fear they’ll get arrested or punished severely. It is a man’s or woman’s choice alone to say what they do with their body, so be it an abortion, sex, or anything at all for that matter. 

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1 Response to Op-Ed Draft – Lelebxby

  1. davidbdale says:

    Making judgments (or laws!) based on morality is a very dangerous business, Lele, both for governments and for writers.

    When your argument rests on the fundamental claim that “It’s just wrong,” you run the risk of being refuted by the simple objection, “Says who?”

    It’s pretty obvious that countless laws make acts illegal on a common understanding of what is moral and what is immoral behavior in a particular country or culture at a particular point in time. We don’t permit incest, or sex between an adult and a minor, or sex between non-consenting adults, just to name a few of our own “moral” laws. So while it may certainly seem obvious that it’s “just wrong” to outlaw premarital sex or for that matter abortion, it’s not a slam-dunk argument to say so.

    You’re on stronger ground when you argue that outlawing abortions (or premarital sex) does not PREVENT abortions or sex. The fact that Morocco even considered exceptions for rape and incest makes it the next likely battleground for activists who want women of all countries to enjoy choice.

    I’m surprised that you haven’t found evidence of deaths or disfigurements resulting from illegal abortions. How are they done? Who performs them? How safe are they? Are the readily available but just very expensive? Negative outcomes of the abortion ban are as important as the fates of the unfortunate innocents born out of wedlock. You provide lots of information in your essay, but not much of it supports an actual argument against the laws of the country.

    Do the laws against abortion and premarital sex reflect a gender-blind morality, or do they reflect a patriarchal culture that undervalues women in all ways?

    I’m afraid you can’t count on the one article from OZY to provide you all your evidence, Lele. Please don’t think this is rude advice; it’s just true, that you’re going to need to do a little research to better understand WHY things are as they are in Morocco before you can lecture them on how they should run their country (even if it’s true that “they’re just wrong.”) 🙂


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