By Amal Ben Hadda
Rabat – Children born out of wedlock are usually called “illegitimate,” “bastards,” and “sons and daughters of adultery,” and are often treated unfairly. They are seen as a source of shame and dishonor by traditional societies.
Being a fatherless child in Morocco is nearly a lifelong condemnation. Article 446 of the Moroccan Jurisprudence describes “any person born outside marriage [as] a bastard; whether he is recognized by his biological father or not.”
Why should innocent children suffer the consequences of an act that they did not commit? How can a justice system deprive children from their fathers only because they were conceived outside marriage?
Regarding the filiation, according to the Moroccan family code a single mother should single-handedly assume the parental obligations, while the biological father is exempted from looking after his own child. Article 146 states that “Filiation to the mother produces the same effects regardless of whether the children are the result of a legitimate or illegitimate relationship.”
Furthermore, Article 148 assures that “Illegitimate filiation to the father does not produce any of the effects of legitimate filiation.” The mentioned effects of legitimate filiation, as defined by Article 54, are basic needs such as health care, education, protection and “respect of their identity and its preservation.”
Not only are these laws discriminatory towards single mothers and their innocent children, but they are also against Islamic values. Such laws that dismiss biological fathers from their duties toward their own children should be banned.
In the Quran, fatherless children should be first assigned to their biological fathers if they are identified, otherwise society should treat them fairlyas normal children, with no stigmatization or segregation.
“Call them by [the names of] their fathers; it is more just in the sight of God. But if you do not know their fathers, then they are [still] your brothers in religion and those entrusted to you. And there is no blame upon you for that in which you have erred but [only for] what your hearts intended. And ever is Allah forgiving and merciful.” – Surah Al-Ahzab [33:5]
Muslim societies should fulfill their obligations towards abandoned and fatherless children. As per the Quran, the first step that should be taken is to identify the biological father and to assign his name to his child. All kinds of discrimination and social segregation should be banned, as it is morally reprehensible to stigmatize fatherless children. The term “illegitimate” is in itself a discrimination against defenseless human beings.
No legal action has been taken against this silent human tragedy yet. Moroccan single mothers continue to suffer from legal discrimination and ostracization. They also face legal punishment for having extramarital sexual relationships. They often abandon their babies as a way of avoiding persecution.
A study conducted by UNICEF and the Moroccan League for Child Welfare concluded that 4,554, or 1.3 percent of children were abandoned in 2008. In 2012, the INSAF Association revealed that 153 babies were born out of wedlock every day, with 24 ultimately being abandoned. According to the Minister of Justice, Mustapha Ramid, the number of cases of abandoned children examined by Moroccan courts amounted to 5,377 in 2013.
Unfortunately, the Moroccan government, which has been led by Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) since 2011, has made no initiative to amend the legal texts. However, ensuring dignity and protection of everyone in Morocco does respect Islamic values, which uphold universal human rights.
Discriminating against children born out of wedlock should never be acceptable. If the Islamists don’t prioritize a fair social justice system, then which kind of Islam are they using to support their ideology?
Edited by Elisabeth Myers