Two Moroccan women were acquitted of gross indecency charges following a trial for wearing short skirts which were “too tight," according to a police report.
On June 16th after being heckled at by market traders, the two women, said to be 29 and 23 years of age, were arrested at an Inezgane market. They were being tried under Article 483 of Morocco's penal code which says that anyone guilty of "public obscenity could face up to two years in prison."
Their case caused a national internet petition to circulate the web; the petition gained over 25,000 signatures and attention of international advocates calling for the end of attacks against their personal liberties.
Moroccan citizens also responded by launching a series of protests on women's rights. Protesters gathered outside of the courthouse yesterday as the trial started. More than 500 lawyers also attended, all of whom were registered to represent the two women in their trial. However, due to the size of the courtroom only 200 lawyers were able to attend.
Fouzia Assouli, a women's rights campaigner told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency that the entire case was absurd because wearing a skirt "is not a crime."
According to their lawyer, Houcine Bekkar Sbai, the next step is to take legal action against those who harassed the women in the market. She noted that women in Morocco have historically been discriminated or treated unfairly.
When Jennifer Lopez, a famous US-based singer, performed at the Mawazine Festival in Morocco in May of this year, the Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane launched an investigation into the Festival's television broadcast.
According to the BBC, Minister Benkirane said that the airing of her performance was a "serious delinquency" and full of “disgraceful scenes" with sexual suggestions which violated the country's audiovisual laws, as well as the religious and ethic values of their society.
After the TV broadcast, Morocco's Minister of Communication was criticized and also asked to resign from several upset individuals.
Additional protests are scheduled in Morocco’s largest city, Agadir, and in Casablanca, the Moroccan capital.