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Annual donation goes to abused women in Morocco

Morocco is currently experiencing a positive development in women’s rights. Nevertheless, violence against women continues to be a widespread problem in the country and women are often dependent on legal aid for their rights to be recognised. Following a visit to the country in September, The Mary Foundation has decided that the annual donation of DKK 250,000 should go towards legal aid for abused women at the Moroccan women’s crisis shelter Tilila in Casablanca.

HRH The Crown Princess and Director Helle Østergaard visited the women’s crisis shelter Tilila in September on a trip to Morocco. The aim of the trip was to provide insight into a Danish-Moroccan cooperation to support abused women in "The Danish-Arab Partnership Programme" and thus focus on violence against women and children. The visit gave a moving insight into the abused Moroccan women’s brutal background and the complexity associated with the violence. In 2004, a new family code was adopted in Morocco, which resulted in significant improvements in women’s rights, although the implementation of the law is still proving challenging.

“It had a major impact experiencing what a vulnerable situation the abused women and children were in. Women have rights on paper, but they are rarely aware of them and they can’t count on them being recognised. The women’s way out of the abuse is therefore particularly dependent on getting a solicitor to take their case to court. During the visit, it became clear to us that women’s rights are one of the keys to a life without abuse, and that’s when the idea came to us that the annual donation should go to legal aid for women at Tilila,” says The Crown Princess.

Tilila is one of 10 women’s crisis shelters in Morocco, a country with a population four-five times greater than Denmark's. By comparison, there are more than 40 women’s crisis shelters in Denmark. The Moroccan shelter is privately run and struggles to get donations to cover their costs. At Tilila, legal aid is naturally prioritised following basic needs such as food and shelter, and when resources are scarce access to legal aid is very limited.

With The Mary Foundation’s donation of a quarter of a million Danish kroner, around 75 women could get their case heard in court and a greater number of women will be informed of their rights. It is The Mary Foundation’s hope that this donation will support women and their children on a way to a life without violence.

The Mary Foundation’s annual donation has previously supported:
Fórum Mulher, Mozambique (DKK 250,000)
Orchid Project ( DKK 50,000). ”Afrika Nu”-collection (DKK 200,000)
Maternity Worldwide, Ethiopia (DKK 250,000)
The Danish Refugee Council, Uganda (DKK 250,000)



In 2004, the Family Code (the Moudawana) was adopted in Morocco. It resulted in a significant improvement to women’s rights, and there has since been a growing focus on violence against women in the country.  Nevertheless, domestic abuse continues to be a major problem in Morocco. 63 % of all women have experienced violence in recent years, and in more than half the cases the abuse comes from the woman's partner. Violence is not something that is spoken about, even though it is to a large extent accepted. 39% of Moroccan women therefore believe that it is normal for a man to hit his wife if she does not live up to her domestic duties.

“The Danish-Arab Partnership Programme” under the Danish Foreign Ministry aims to create a dialogue between Denmark and countries in North Africa and the Middle East (the MENA region). One of the focus areas in the initiative is violence against women, where KVINFO (the Danish Centre for Information on Gender, Equality and Diversity), which is the overall programme organisation and Danner and LOKK (the National Organization of Women's Crisis Centres) are working with women’s organisations in the MENA region to support women here at home and in the region. KVINFO, Danner and LOKK have used their experience from Danish women’s crisis centres in the skills development of e.g. staff at the Moroccan crisis shelter. In return, the Danish organisations have gained valuable knowledge about how to best support women from the MENA region in Denmark. The women’s crisis shelter in Tilila is a Danish-Moroccan cooperation.

The Mary Foundation’s visit to Morocco inspired The Mary Foundation to set up a similar project in Greenland.

  • 63 % of women in Morocco have been subjected to violence in recent years - 55% of those abused were married.
  • In 2004 the Moroccan king adopted a new family code, the Moudawana, which would improve women's rights. Women were allowed to divorce, gained equal rights for parental custody and it became illegal to marry women below the age of 16. Through its work in the region, KVINFO contributed to the implementation of the new family code.
  • In 2011, the Moroccan government launched a national action plan to combat violence against women.
  • The women’s crisis shelter in Tilila can accommodate 20 women and their children. Women typically stay there for two to six months.
  • “The Danish-Arab Partnership Programme” under the Danish Foreign Ministry aims to create a dialogue between Denmark and countries in North Africa and the Middle East. One of the focus areas is women’s rights, including violence against women.
  • Under “The Danish-Arab Partnership Programme” KVINFO, Danner and LOKK are working together on capacity development of crisis centres to combat violence against women in the MENA region, hereunder Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.
  • The Mary Foundation’s mission is to combat social isolation within three selected areas of action: Bullying & Wellbeing, Domestic Abuse and Loneliness.