The Associated Press Provides Context For A Suicide

The Associated Press reports on a terrible story from Morocco:

The case of a 16-year-old girl who killed herself after she was forced to marry her rapist has spurred outrage among Morocco’s internet activists and calls for changes to the country’s laws. …

Amina Filali…swallowed rat poison on Saturday to protest her marriage to the man who raped her a year earlier.

Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code allows for the “kidnapper” of a minor to marry his victim to escape prosecution, and it has been used to justify a traditional practice of making a rapist marry his victim to preserve the honor of the woman’s family. …

“It is unfortunately a recurring phenomenon,” [Fouzia Assouli, president of Democratic League for Women’s Rights] said. “We have been asking for years for the cancellation of Article 475 of the penal code which allows the rapist to escape justice.”

It is, as I said, a terrible story, and one that certainly reflects poorly on Morocco’s law and culture. But the Associated Press doesn’t want its readers to draw any adverse inferences about Morocco or, Allah forbid, Islam. So it inserted this gratuitous observation into its news story:

In many parts of the Middle East, there is a tradition whereby a rapist can escape prosecution if he marries his victim, thereby restoring her honor. There is a similar injunction in the Old Testament’s Book of Deuteronomy.

So all religions, evidently, are equally barbaric. Of course, we haven’t exactly witnessed an epidemic of sixteen year old girls consuming rat poison because they were forced to marry rapists in the U.S., Israel, or any other predominantly Christian or Jewish country; nor is there such a country where forced marriage is a defense to a criminal rape charge.

Moreover, the AP’s categorical assertion about Deuteronomy was questionable at best. It referred to Deuteronomy 22:28, which some have maligned as condoning rape. This site has a scholarly analysis of why that interpretation is incorrect.

Be that as it may, the AP’s instinctive desire to drag the Old Testament into its story by way of extenuation is highly revealing.

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