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Arab Winter Watch: Uproar in Morroco Over Underage Marriages

Amina el-Filali, a moon-faced Moroccan peasant girl, seemed destined for an obscure life in this dreary little farming village 50 miles south of Tangiers.

But that was before she was lured into sexual relations at age 15 by a 23-year-old unemployed laborer who took her into a shed next to the eucalyptus grove behind her house. That was before she was ushered into an early wedding, with the man who took her virginity, by a traditional Muslim family eager to salvage its honor. And that was before she swallowed rat poison to commit suicide rather than endure what she told her mother was an unbearable marriage.

Since Amina took her life shortly before lunch March 10, she has become a national cause, an icon for women’s groups, human rights organizations, progressive politicians and millions of ­Western-oriented Moroccans who have demanded changing a law that permits marriage at such a young age.

The law under attack is based on Islamic jurisprudence and tradition. As a result, the demands for change present a particularly unwelcome challenge to Morocco’s new Islamist government, which was elected in November on a promise to make Morocco more Islamic — not less. . .


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