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An Ambiguous Discourse of Rights: the 2004 Family Law Reform in Morocco

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The daring reforms of the 2004 family law in Morocco were heralded as a watershed in the contemporary status of gender relations. Making the institution of the tutor optional, raising the age of marriage to be equal between men and women and granting rights of custody to the mother in cases of divorce or re-marriage were seen as valorizing to women. However, and despite this progressive thrust, there remain some murky areas pertaining to the question of birth outside wedlock. This article weaves its argument around the structural impossibility of establishing legal rights to unmarried mothers given that such a phenomenon symbolizes deep existential anxieties about changes occurring within hitherto controlled and taboo domains of sexuality and the right to sexuality. The crisis facing traditional forms of solidarity and the indeterminacy of the Mudawana's clauses invoke an embattled social space where women's "illegal" sexuality continues to be the vexing nexus.


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