Morocco.. Women’s pressure to grant women the right to guardianship over their children

Morocco.. Women’s pressure to grant women the right to guardianship over their children
Morocco.. Women’s pressure to grant women the right to guardianship over their children

Women’s organizations in Morocco are pressuring legislators to amend family laws that impede women’s guardianship over children and grant it absolute to men, and this coincides with the debate taking place in the Kingdom about an upcoming amendment to the law.

The Authenticity Party and the Moroccan opposition submitted a proposal to change Articles 236 and 238 of the current Family Code, known as the Family Code, which greatly restrict women’s guardianship over their children.

Article 236 of the law stipulates that “the father is the guardian of his children by virtue of Sharia, unless he is stripped of his guardianship by a judicial ruling.

This article grants the father guardianship over minor children from birth until they reach the legal age of majority, which is 18 years.

As for Article 238 of the current law, it details the cases in which a woman can have guardianship instead of the father, and stipulates that for the mother’s guardianship over her children, the father is not present due to death, absence, incompetence, or a search for him for a misdemeanor of family neglect or while he is serving a prison sentence for a misdemeanor or felony, or Otherwise.”

The party proposes that guardianship be for the father by virtue of Sharia, “unless he is stripped of his guardianship by a judicial ruling, and the mother also has the right to carry out administrative affairs and procedures related to her children in a way that preserves the best interest of the child,” according to what was reported by the Moroccan “Hespress” website.

Human rights and women’s organizations have been calling for years to change the law, according to women’s rights activist Fatiha Ashtato.

Discrimination against women

Ashtato, a human rights activist in the Federation of Women’s Rights League in Morocco, says that the current family law was welcomed when it was first adopted and was considered a model in the Arab and Islamic world, but the reality quickly revealed its limitations and revealed large gaps in it, especially with regard to divorce and the problem of guardianship over children.

According to Moroccan law, a woman obtains the right to custody after divorce, but this custody remains under the guardianship of the father, according to Chtato, adding that even if a woman obtains the right to custody of her children, it is not possible to dispose of their interests without the permission of the guardian father.

In her interview with Al-Hurra, the human rights activist explained that a woman cannot travel with her children or transport them from one place to another, even inside Morocco, without the father’s permission.


Chtato believes that this is discrimination against women and a violation of the constitution and all international covenants that Morocco has committed to before the international community to achieve equality between men and women.


Ashtato called for changing the law and linking the right of custody to the state, as is the case in Tunisia.

The Tunisian Family Code, known as the Code of Personal Status and Family Relations, stipulates that guardianship be granted to the mother in the event of divorce.

Article 67 of the Tunisian law stipulates that in the event of divorce and the assignment of custody to the mother, she “enjoys the powers of guardianship with regard to the travel and study of the child under custody and the disposal of his financial accounts.”

In contrast to Tunisia, family laws in Morocco and the rest of the Arab countries are similar, which grant guardianship to the father, even in the matter of granting custody to the mother.

The debate in Morocco about the upcoming amendment of the family law has intensified between conservatives and modernists due to controversial issues that human rights organizations focus on in their demands for the country’s legislative authorities.

Human rights activists are seeking to persuade parliament to repeal laws that criminalize individual freedoms, and to amend the family law known in the kingdom as the Family Code.

For years, human rights organizations have been calling for the legalization of voluntary termination of pregnancy to guarantee a woman’s right to dispose of her own body, in addition to other demands.

However, these demands to change some laws to suit international legislation and covenants are opposed at home by the Justice and Development Party, the largest Islamic party in the country, and other conservative currents.

The Family Code is a major point of contention between conservatives who defend the need for its connection with Islamic law, and modernists who stress the need for it to comply with international agreements signed by Morocco.