Yesterday, in Inezgane, south of Agadir, on the southern part of Morocco’s Atlantic Ocean coast, a judge decided that two young women were not guilty of… outraging the public through some sort of indecency. Supporters rejoiced. Defense attorney Houcine Bekkar Sbai declared: “I am very pleased with this verdict. This is a victory not only for these two women, but for all members of civil society who mobilized. Extremist thinking is unacceptable and no one can set themselves up as guardians of religion and morals.” Fouzia Assouli, President of the Federation of the League of Women’s Rights, added, “This acquittal is positive and means that wearing this type of clothing is not a crime.”
Now that this trial is over, the two women, constantly referred to as “the girls of Izegane” in the press, have broken their silence: “We have committed no crime or offense, and yet we have been dragged into court, unjustly, in fear and terror, in pain and suffering.”
The judge also found that the police were beyond reproach in this matter. Two women were harassed and terrorized, forced to hide, because of the perception that they were “girls” wearing objectionable clothing, and the police picked them up, held them, and then arrested the two women, and, only after a hue and cry was raised, began looking for and finally arresting men suspected of having harassed and intimidated the two women. And the police acted according to the letter of the law.
Supporters of the two women say the next step is to prosecute those who harassed the two women. Fair enough. What about the police and the letter of the law to which they abided? Supporters and activists have been reduced to arguing that these two women were not provocatively dressed. The next two… well… we’ll see. But for now “the girls of Inezgane” are not going to prison, thanks to the pressure of thousands of women across Morocco, and that is good news.