Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mohammed VI

We learned that the current king of Morocco, Mohammed VI (who ascended the throne in 1999), has been very good for Moroccan women’s rights. Under his leadership Moroccan women have been granted rights to divorce, custody, child support, and property ownership, and female literacy has been on the rise. Our trekking guide (also named Mohammed) mentioned that divorce used to be common in Morocco ten years ago (not sure how it compared to the 50% rate in the U.S.), but it’s no longer the case due to the new laws. Now the only conditions under which divorce is legal is if a couple doesn’t have any children and if both husband and wife mutually agree to divorce.

Interestingly, polygamy remains legal. We asked our guide Mohammed whether he saw any inconsistency with other reforms, and he explained that even the King of Morocco cannot change Islamic Law. For us, it was a question of interpretation, not dissimilar from the king’s interpretation of the legality of divorce. But our guide Mohammed clarified that anyway with respect to polygamy it’s better for a man to take a second (or a third or a fourth) wife than to fall in love with another woman and either divorce the first or have an affair. Mohammed didn’t see any contradictions. Perhaps it is us who are confused…

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