Workshop on Implementation of the 2004 Family Law in Morocco

ILSP 2014-2015 Research Fellow Dörthe EngelckeThe Islamic Legal Studies Program will host a workshop given by ILSP Visiting Fellow Dörthe Engelcke on March 11, from 2-3:30. Engelcke will present her research on family law in Morocco. Her abstract is provided below.

This workshop is open to all HLS and Harvard University affiliates. Please RSVP no later than March 6 to [email protected] if you plan to attend. The full paper will provided upon receipt of your message. Beverages and snacks will be available.

The Implementation of the 2004 Family Law in Morocco: The Limits of Authoritarianism and the Prevalence of Conflicting Narratives

The reform of the Moroccan family code in 2004 had initially been praised by women’s groups. By the end of the decade, however, women’s groups began to criticize that the “the true spirit” of the code and in particular the code’s equality provisions have not been applied which women’s groups blamed on a lack of state efforts to implement the law. This paper assesses the extent to which the reality criticized by women’s groups can be blamed on the state. As this paper demonstrates the state has undertaken efforts to implement the law, but it has faced considerable obstacles in the process, uncovering a limited ability to enforce its own laws. This paper therefore finds that the power of the state is overestimated, and that a lack of the proper application of the “spirit” of the law thus cannot be blamed on a lack of state efforts alone. It is the result of a situation of legal pluralism and the fact that the state in unable to enforce a consensus on what the “true spirit” of the law actually is. This chapter proceeds by first redefining the state thus to take into account that it is not a monolithic entity and that state agencies may differ in their approaches to family law. Based on participant observations, semi-structured interviews, as well as written sources, it then assesses three examples of different state agencies’ efforts to guarantee the application of the law: the institutionalisation of the social assistant (judicial auxiliary), the training of ͑ulamāʾ in the new family code, and the efforts of local ulamāʾ councils. Moving beyond the state level the paper then examines how two NGOs, the secular Association Démocratique des Femmes de Maroc (ADFM) and the Islamist Organisation for the Renewal of the Female Consciousness (ORCF) teach the family law to their constituencies. This chapter thereby makes a conscious attempt towards the study of different areas of normative production that are situated inside as well as outside of the state.