Two Moroccan women have gone on trial on charges of ‘gross indecency’ – for wearing skirts.
The two were on their way to work in the city of Inezgane, last month, when a market trader called them out on their dress code which also saw a large crowd draw around them, reports suggest.
The pair’s arrest caused an uproar in the country. An online petition calling for their release began to gather pace and has currently reached almost 25,500 signatures.
The petition’s founder, Majda S, says the two women could have been ‘lynched’ by the market crowd had the police not intervened.
It also adds: “If we create a massive wave of support, Mr El Mostafa Ramid, Minister of Justice and Liberties will be forced to take a stand for their release, sentencing the offenders, and protecting the rights of all Moroccans to freedom and safety no matter how they chose to dress.”
Protests have taken place across Morocco, with demonstrators saying the women should be free to dress as they please and a large crowd also gathered outside the courthouse at the start of the trial yesterday.
Liz McKean, in charge of Amnesty International UK women’s human rights programme, called the legal case “flimsy” and acknowledged Morocco’s emerging pattern of discriminatory laws against women.
She added: “The only sensible thing here would be for the case to be dropped and police officers in Morocco instructed not to make arrests in cases like these in the future.
“Meanwhile, the authorities need to set about amending a whole range of highly discriminatory laws on rape, abortion, divorce and child custody.”
The two women, said to be aged 23 and 29, are being tried under an article in the penal code which says that anyone found guilty of ‘public obscenity’ could face a prison sentence for up to two years.
A verdict will be reached on July 13.
Just last month, pop star and actress Jennifer Lopez cause much debate in the country after local media reported how she was ‘scantily’ dressed during a concert which was also broadcast live on TV.Reuse content