Moroccan teacher given jail term after she accused police of sexual assault

Moroccan teacher given jail term after she accused police of sexual assault
Moroccan teacher sentenced to jail after alleging sexual assault by police. amid accusations of political motivation surrounding the trial of her and other contractual teachers protesting precarious conditions
3 min read
24 May, 2023
Amnesty International has lambasted the trial as politically motivated. (Getty)

A Moroccan court sentenced a teacher to three months in jail on Tuesday for "insulting public authorities with the intent to harm their honour" after she claimed to be a victim of sexual assault at a police station.

"The state's intention is to suppress our struggle and prevent other teachers from defending their rights. We strongly condemn these mock trials," stated a spokesperson from the Moroccan Coordination of Contractual Teachers.

On Tuesday, the court of appeal in Rabat upheld a three-month sentence against Nezha Majdi, a teacher who has been on trial since last year.

Nezha was tried alongside nineteen other male contractual teachers, but she was the only one to receive a prison sentence.

The other nineteen contractual teachers were given a suspended sentence of two months in prison for "violating the state of health emergency" and "insulting security forces" during protests.

According to the Moroccan penal code, a suspended sentence means the convict will not serve the prison term unless they commit a crime punishable by imprisonment within the next five years.

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The trial of the teachers dates back to April 2021 when more than forty teachers were arrested during a large demonstration in Rabat against the contractual employment system in Morocco and the challenging working conditions faced by teachers in the country.

Despite the ongoing Covid-19 emergency at the time, authorities cracked down on the protests for violating the ban on gatherings.

After her release from the police station, Majdi told the media that she had been subjected to sexual assault by members of the police during the 48 hours she spent in five different police stations after being violently arrested during the protests.

No public investigation was launched into her case.

Amnesty International has criticized the trial as politically motivated.

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With Morocco's current unemployment rate at 12.7 percent, the teachers argue that they had no choice but to accept these temporary contracts.

Contractual teachers have been protesting their precarious working conditions for over four years, demanding permanent jobs and improved civil service benefits.

They have also stated that they face financial penalties ranging from $70 to $150 for each protest or strike they participate in. Moroccan contractual teachers receive a monthly salary of 5,000 MAD ($500).

Before being elected in October 2021, Morocco's new prime minister, Aziz Akhannouch, pledged to prioritize education reforms.

Despite numerous meetings with the contractual teachers, Akhannouch's cabinet has yet to resolve the deadlock.

A source from the Moroccan Coordination of Contractual Teachers stated that the coordination will organize a series of protests across the country in response to the recent sentences.