Women’s perspectives on marriage and rights in Morocco: risk factors for forced and early marriage in the Marrakech region

Alexia Sabbe, Halima Oulami, Somia Hamzali, Najia Oulami, Fatima Zehra Le Hjir, Mariam Abdallaoui, Marleen Temmerman, Els Leye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the introduction of the new Family Law, or Moudawana, in Morocco, effectively raising the minimum age for marriage, the number of girls being forced into wedlock is rising. This increase has been a source of concern from a women’s rights perspective. The present study explored women’s experiences and perspectives in relation to factors that contribute to the occurrence of child and forced marriage in Morocco. Using a participatory approach, focus-group discussions and in-depth interviews were held with women in both urban and rural settings in the greater Marrakech region. Overall, 125 women, between 18 and 69 years of age, participated in the study. Our findings highlight the need for more open dialogue between (grand)parents and children. Overall, the Moudawana is perceived as a considerable step forward for women’s rights, yet study findings show that current policy provisions are not effective in abolishing forced marriages. Findings point to the need for a redefinition of the role of organisations, women’s associations and other groups, with the recommendation that they focus their future efforts on awareness-raising among older generations and refrain from directly intervening in cases of forced marriage. Sensitisation efforts, including the use of popular media, are crucial to reach members of this older population group, where illiteracy remains widespread.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-149
Number of pages15
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Morocco
  • child and forced marriage
  • sexual and reproductive health
  • violence against women


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