Moroccan Women Face ‘Gross Indecency’ Charges for Wearing Dresses


Moroccan officials arrested two women, ages 23 and 29, last month because they wore skirts. The arrests occurred after a market trader caused a ruckus over the outfits.

The officials accused the women of “gross indecency” because their dresses were “too tight” and therefore provocative. If found guilty, Article 483 of the penal code states the offenders could face up to two years in prison.

A woman named Majda S. started an online petition over the arrest. As of publication, over 26,000 people signed the document. Her goal is 30,000. She explained the case “is a violation of freedom and equality between men and women.” She hopes the petition causes a wave:

If we create a massive wave of support, Mr El Mostafa Ramid, Minister of Justice and Liberties will be forced to take a stand for their release, sentencing the offenders, and protecting the rights of all Moroccans to freedom and safety no matter how they chose to dress.

Note that none of the vendors who put the lives of two women in danger by exposing them to physical and moral aggression, has been prosecuted. This is an infringement on individual freedoms and human rights! A significant part of Moroccan women wear dresses for decades. Are these the laws that manage public space today or is it the individuals with the least respect for the freedoms and rights of others, on behalf of their own standards?

On Monday, an enormous crowd gathered outside of the courthouse to show support the women. Fouzia Assouli, head of the Democratic League of Women’s Rights (LDDF), told the AFP the crowd included over 500 lawyers. The court only allowed 200 to enter the courtroom, but those lawyers “took turns to put forward arguments in the case.” Lawyer Sibai Baker told the press this case is “a chance for our country to amend its laws to conform with its commitments to human rights and especially individual freedoms.”