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Key findings
  • Gender-based violence (GBV) ranks second among the most important women’s rights issues that Moroccans want their government and society to address.
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of citizens say violence against women is “not very common” or “not at all common” in their community, but 31% – including 36% of women – disagree.
  • Three-quarters (76%) of citizens say it is “never” justified for a man to use physical force to discipline his wife. Women are more likely than men to see the use of physical force as never justified (84% vs. 67%).
  • About half (51%) of Moroccans consider it likely that victims of GBV will be criticised, harassed, or shamed by others in the community if they report these crimes to the authorities. o But a large majority (83%) believe that the police are likely to take cases of GBV seriously.
  • About half (51%) of respondents say domestic violence should be treated as a private matter to be resolved within the family, while 48% see it as a criminal matter that must involve law enforcement agencies.

In his message for International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November), United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres described gender-based violence (GBV) as “a horrific violation of human rights, a public health crisis, and a major obstacle to sustainable development” (United Nations, 2023). 

In Morocco, the 2019 National Survey on Violence Against Women and Men found that 57% of women, totalling more than 7.6 million, had experienced some form of violence during the preceding 12 months (High Commission for Planning, 2019a). While this reflects a 6- percentage-point decrease compared to a decade earlier (High Commission for Planning for Planning, 2019b), GBV remains a pressing issue in Morocco. The National Human Rights Council (2022) has argued that the spread of stereotypes and violent imagery via digital media is contributing to an “explicit normalisation” of violence against women. 

Morocco has implemented institutional, legal, and advocacy measures to combat GBV, including a national strategy for the fight against violence against women (2002) and legislative reforms to the penal code, labour code, and family law. But activists say these measures fall short of international standards and continue to leave girls and women vulnerable to physical and sexual violence, sexual exploitation, marital rape, child marriage, and other forms of GBV – and most cases are never reported to the authorities (Advocates for Human Rights & Mobilising for Rights Associates, 2022). 

This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 (2021/2023) questionnaire to explore Africans’ experiences and perceptions of gender based violence. 

Although a majority of Moroccans say GBV is not a common occurrence in their community, it ranks second among the most important women’s-rights issues that citizens say their government and society must address. Most Moroccans say men are never justified in using physical force to discipline their wives. But while most think the police take GBV cases seriously, more than half say victims of GBV are likely to face criticism, harassment, or shaming by others in the community if they report such crimes. And half consider domestic violence a private matter to be resolved within the family.

Mhammed Abderebbi

Mhammed Abderebbi is the national investigator for Morocco.

Maame Akua Amoah Twum

Maame is the communications coordinator for North and Anglophone West Africa at Afrobarometer