A draft law that prohibits sexist material in television commercials has been approved by the Moroccan lower house of parliament. The draft law bans the diffusion of negative stereotypes that incite discrimination against women on the basis of their gender.
After an uptick in apparent puritanism in recent weeks – including an investigation into a performance by Jennifer Lopez, the arrest of two Femen members in Rabat and the censoring of the ‘Much Loved’ film, which describes the day of four prostitutes from Marrakesh – the draft law marks a move in the opposite direction.
Within the communications ministry’s plan to bring Morocco in line with its constitution and international law, the draft law on publicity has come a few days prior to the beginning of Ramadan, when commercials for food abound on national TV channels with women in kitchens and and massive amounts of sexist stereotypes. The government has committed itself to promoting women’s rights and called on civil society to help. Communications Minister Mustafa El-Khalfi was the first to support the law on publicity, the same politician from the pro-Islamist Justice and Development Party that spoke out against Jennifer Lopez’s ”indecency”.
After a recent concert in Rabat and the broadcasting of her show with some 2 million watching, the singer of ‘Booty’ has now been reported to the authorities for disturbing public order and risks a two-year prison sentence. In order to reassure his conservative voters, Minister El-Khafi also banned, prior to a request being submitted, the distribution in cinemas of Nabyl Ayouch’s film ‘Much Loved’, the only Moroccan film scheduled for the Cannes Quinzaine. Parts of the work ended up online and pirated copies have been distributed in many bars of the largest Moroccan cities. The opposition is finding it difficult to speak up.
Driss Lachgar, head of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, has said that ”with similar positions we will not manage to convince the rest of the world that we are an exception in North Africa in terms of respect for human rights”. Tourism Minister Lahcen Haddad from the Justice and Development Party said instead that ”we are fighting for a free Morocco and at the same time we feel offended by a show like that of Jennifer Lopez, which is above all an artistic one.
Those who do not like this type of show is free not to go to the concert and to change the TV channel.”(ANSAmed).