Sunday 25 February 2018

Hundreds of lawyers back pair in Morocco over 'provocative' dresses

Moroccans shout slogans and hold placards during a demonstration in Rabat.
Moroccans shout slogans and hold placards during a demonstration in Rabat.

Ellen Fullam in Agadir

Hundreds of lawyers have registered to defend two women who went on trial in Morocco on Monday accused of "gross indecency" for wearing dresses considered provocative, an activist said.

The women were arrested in the southern city of Agadir in mid-June after walking through a marketplace in the dresses, sparking anger among people in the conservative Muslim kingdom. The verdict is to be delivered next Monday, said Fouzia Assouli, head of women's rights organisation LDDF.

The two women, hairdressers aged 23 and 29, were charged with "indecent exposure" for which they could face up to two years in prison. They have been backed by hundreds of lawyers, many of whom appeared in court on Monday, said Assouli.

"Five hundred lawyers registered to defend the two women, but because of restricted space in the courtroom, only 200 were able to attend," she added.

The lawyers took turns to put forward arguments in the case, she said.

One of them, Sibai Bakar, said the trial was a "chance for our country to amend its laws to conform with its commitments to human rights".

Rights organisations have denounced the trial and protests are to be held later this week in Agadir and in Morocco's commercial capital, Casablanca, in support of the two women.

In the police report, they were described as wearing clothes that were "too tight".

Article 483 of Morocco's penal code states that anyone found guilty of committing an act of "public obscenity" such as "gross indecency" can be jailed for between a month and two years.

Irish Independent

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