MOROCCO – Journalist Hajar Raissouni, her fiancé and clinicians freed by royal pardon

Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni, her fiancé, and the gynaecologist, anaesthetist and medical assistant who treated her, who were all sent to prison on 30 September for “illegal abortion” and sexual relations outside marriage, walked free on 16 October, having been granted a royal pardon by King Mohammed VI.

The case had sparked widespread protest and debate on personal and media freedoms in Morocco. For example, in support of Raissouni, a manifesto had been published on 23 September by Moroccan media outlets, in which hundreds of women declared themselves “outlaws” for also having violated Morocco’s laws on abortion and other social norms.

The pardon was reportedly granted on compassionate grounds. The King said he wanted to help “preserve the future of the couple, who wanted to establish a family in line with our religious and legal precepts, despite the error they made”.

However, there are some 600-800 illegal abortions each day in Morocco, according to estimates by campaigning groups. Moreover, the IB Times reports, last year Morocco tried thousands of people for sex out of wedlock, 170 people for being gay and 73 for abortions.

SOURCE: International Business Times, by Sophie Pons, AFP, 16 October 2019 ; PHOTO: AFP/Fadel Senna