Home Institution

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

Morocco: Migration and Transnational Identity


Article 490 of the Moroccan Penal Code deems sexual relations outside of marriage illegal and punishable by one month to one-year prison time. But in a society where marriage is often delayed due to financial restrictions, premarital sex is common and pervasive. Though premarital sex is the norm amongst many, if a lady becomes pregnant, the tables turn she is labeled a “whore” or a “street woman”. If a man fathers a child out of wedlock; he can simply deny affiliation and walk out of the picture.The woman is marginalized, and the father of the child does not bear any cultural or legal responsibility for the child. I asked important questions like who are these couples and what are their circumstances, what does society have to say about them, and what does religion say about them?

After researching, I have found that these single mothers fit very diverse profiles, but most come from impoverished backgrounds and entered into consensual relationships with their partners. After speaking and observing over thirty individuals on the topic of single mothers, I have concluded that Moroccan society does not have mercy on these women, and they are flung to the outer edges of Moroccan society. Lastly, I looked at what Islam, the inspiration behind Article 490, has to say about sexual relations outside of marriage. I find that Moroccan society lives between three differing worlds: the Islamic mentality, the cultural mentality, and reality. People are able to move between differing worlds and switch their mentalities depending on the situation. But in the end I find that women get the short end of the stick when the final chess piece has been moved into position.


Civic and Community Engagement | Family, Life Course, and Society | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social Welfare


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