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24.09.2019 Morocco

Morocco journalist says police forced her to take medical test

By AFP
Detained Moroccan journalist Hajr Raissouni's case has sparked solidarity demonstrations in Morocco.  By FADEL SENNA (AFP)
SEP 24, 2019 MOROCCO
Detained Moroccan journalist Hajr Raissouni's case has sparked solidarity demonstrations in Morocco. By FADEL SENNA (AFP)

A Moroccan journalist on trial over alleged sexual relations outside marriage and an "illegal abortion" told a court Monday that police had forced her to undergo a painful medical examination in custody.

Hajar Raissouni's latest hearing came as hundreds of Moroccan women, in a show of solidarity, said in a joint statement they had broken their country's "unfair" laws punishing extramarital relations and abortions.

Raissouni, whose lawyers called for her acquittal, denied she had had an abortion, insisting she had received treatment for internal haemorrhage, as backed up by her gynaecologist who has also been arrested.

The defendant, wearing a traditional black robe and green scarf, told the judge she been detained by "a dozen" police officers and forced to take a 20-minute medical examination without anaesthetic to ease the pain.

Raissouni, a 28-year-old journalist, her Sudanese boyfriend, a doctor, a nurse and a medical secretary remain in custody since being detained late last month.

In the rare manifesto published in Moroccan media Monday, hundreds of Moroccan women declared themselves "outlaws" for violating the North African country's "unfair and obsolete laws".

"We are having sex outside wedlock. We are suffering, enabling or being complicit of abortion," declared its 490 signatories, including award-winning Franco-Moroccan author Leila Slimani and filmmaker Sonia Terrab.

Article 490 of Morocco's penal code punishes sexual relations out of wedlock, while the law also forbids all abortions unless the mother's life is in danger.

Between 600 and 800 back-shop abortions occur each day in Morocco, according to estimates by campaign groups.

Last year, Morocco tried thousands of people for sex out of wedlock, 170 people for being gay, and 73 for pregnancy terminations.

In the early 1970s, in a similar text, French women calling themselves the "343 sluts" famously declared they had had an abortion when it was still illegal.

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