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Morocco’s “Years of Lead” period from the late 1950’s to 1990’s was marked by policies of state violence against political dissidents including torture, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearances. Violence against women during this period is a less-discussed issue, though recent studies expose incidents of gender-based violence, including sexual assault and rape, harassment and degrading treatment, and physical as well as psychological torture.
Established in 2004, Morocco’s Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER: l’Instance équité et réconciliation) was one of the first attempts made in the Arab world to address human rights violations perpetrated in the post-independence period. It also aimed to include female victims of human rights abuse into broader transitional justice programs.
“Morocco: Gender and the Transitional Justice Process,” authored by ICTJ’s Julie Guillerot in collaboration with Naima Benwakrim, Maria Ezzaouini, and Widad Bouab of the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women, analyzes whether the various transitional justice processes undertaken by the IER sufficiently fulfill the gender-specific focus of its mandate.
The IER has implemented a number of different initiatives, including investigating offenses, collecting and analyzing data regarding human rights abuse, providing reparations, arranging thematic public activities, and enacting public and private hearings. Based on oral testimonies, interviews, and surveys conducted in seven different regions of the country, the IER attempted to distinguish between the experiences of male and female victims through qualitative research.
Though gender is included at various points in the IER program, this report concludes that the data does not adequately reflect the different types of abuses perpetrated against women and men. This is due to the IER’s primarily gender-neutral language, uneven incorporation of gender focus, and the lack of specialized data regarding human rights violations and gender distribution.
In order to achieve greater success in redressing female victims of abuse, “Morocco: Gender and the Transitional Justice Process” recommends further institutionalizing a gender-sensitive approach by expanding the capacities of the recently-formed gender committee, which contains several prominent feminist and gender experts. It is also advised that studies on female victims of human rights abuse be made more accessible to public institutions and civic actors.
The final recommendation of the report is for the IER to deepen collaborations with Morocco’s rich women’s rights movement, which has previously had little impact on the broader transitional justice measures that are being implemented. Taking these recommendations into account will undoubtedly highlight the importance of gender specificity within the larger scope of transitional justice measures, and will help Moroccan society undergo a more complete transition.