Panel Announcement: “The Moroccan Feminist Hirak”

The Debate over the Inheritance Law

Panelists: Fatima Outaleb (Director of the Union for Women’s Action – Women’s Shelter in Morocco)
Moderation: Manal Dao-Sabah (University of Fez)
Place: Institute for Near and Middle Eastern Studies, LMU Munich
July 6th / 7th

«Can the subaltern speak?» Yes, the subaltern can speak, contest, protest, shape and reshape everything that constitutes his/her subalternity no matter how long and thorny the way might be. The 2011 Arab awakening ushered in a different historical phase with new demands and new methods. The feminist hirak is certainly and strongly part of a new generation of human rights. On March 21, one hundred Moroccan personalities signed a petition calling for equality in the inheritance system which still grants women half as men inherit. The signatories, among whom we find Moroccan intellectuals, researchers, writers, sociologists, artists, and activists from both sexes, condemn Ta’asib law which stipulates that a family with women only and with no brother has to share its inheritance with a male relative. Activists and feminists in Morocco argue that the inheritance law does not rhyme with the 2011 constitution which prioritizes equality between the sexes in accordance with the international covenants. How can we empower women while they are victims of institutionalized economic violence? However, the debate over the inheritance law is not only political but also heavily religious. Since most religious scholars are against this reform, this call does not only have proponents but also strong opponents opposing any attempt at re-reading this law and matching it with reality. While reality confirms that one in six households are run by women according to the High Commission of Planning (HCP) in 2014, some religious scholars and conservatives still believe that no Ijtihad (intellectual efforts to re-read religious texts) is needed in this case. It should be stressed however that ijtihad was used in cases where the Quran has articulated clear statements as is the case of Verse 38 of the Sura al-Maida: [As for] the thief, the male and the female, amputate their hands in recompense for what they committed as a deterrent [punishment] from Allah.”

Thus, this panel is a platform to discuss how the subaltern claims social justice and access to full inheritance/agency and resists economic violence/dependence. This panel will have the honour to invite the vibrant and eloquent activist Fatima Outaleb, the director of the l’Union de l’Action Féminine shelter of women victims of violence, who will translate and represent the union’s position vis-à-vis this law as well as the negotiations the union plans to engage both in the political and the religious fields, two powers that hold the reins and remain contentiously intertwined in Morocco. At the same level, the panel is eager to discuss how the civil society addresses the polarity and the doublespeak of the State in relation to gender-related laws like inheritance.

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