Sex for grades: Two Moroccan professors sentenced to jail over sextortion

Sex for grades: Two Moroccan professors sentenced to jail over sextortion
Moroccan Outlaws, the movement behind #MeTooUniv, said radical changes should be made for justice to the victims, starting with abolishing Article 490 that "silences" victims of sexual abuse in the Kingdom.
3 min read
23 March, 2022
"It gives us hope that collective struggle for rights can bring real change," said the movement behind #MeTooUniv. [Getty]

A Moroccan court has sentenced two university professors to jail over sextortion, in the infamous case of sex-for-grades that rocked the country in September last year.

Four professors faced the court of the First Instance in Settat in central Morocco on Tuesday.

The main person indicted in the case is the head of the Public Law Department at the Faculty of Law at Hassan I University in Settat city, and he was sentenced to one and a half years in jail and a fine of 7,000 Moroccan dirhams (around $US 700). 

A professor of the history of politics was sentenced to one year and a fine of 5,000 dirhams (around $US 500).

The court ruled a complete acquittal of the other two professors.

The sextortion accusations erupted last year when conversations between the head of the public law department in the city's faculty of law and many female students, were leaked online and set off a storm of reactions on social media. 

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The leaked conversations revealed the man promise his female students the opportunity to pass the academic year in exchange for sex. He further offered to speak with other professors to ensure the female students who accept will graduate with "good grades."

The case, known in Morocco as "sex-for-grades", brought the department's head and other four professors to trial, all facing charges of sextortion and sexual abuse. 

In December last year, another controversy emerged when the feminist movement Moroccan Outlaws shared, on its Instagram page with over 50,000 followers, more sextortion leaks from another university in the Northern city of Oujda. The movement also urged victims of sexual harassment in Moroccan universities and schools to speak out under the hashtag #MetooUniv.

Emboldened by the campaign, dozens of victims have shared their experiences with sexual harassment, blackmailing, and sextortion in Moroccan schools online, after being silent for years out of fear and helplessness.

Since then, several students from Tetouan, Tangier, Casablanca, and other cities around the Kingdom have taken legal actions against "serial abuser professors" within higher education institutions.

Moroccan penal code punishes a person who commits the crime of sexual extortion with a minimum of a year and a maximum of five years imprisonment, according to Article 538.

In January, a Moroccan court announced the first verdict in the case,  sentencing one of five suspects in the Settat’s case to two years in prison.

Tuesday's court's decision marks another victory for the MeToo University's movement, says Moroccan Outlaws.

"It gives us hope that collective struggle for rights can bring real change," said Ghizlane Mamouni, a Moroccan lawyer and a member of the movement, to The New Arab.

However, the movement said more radical changes are needed for justice to the victims, starting with abolishing Article 490 that "silences" victims of sexual abuse.

"All persons of different sex, who are not united by marriage ties, have sexual relations with each other, are punished with imprisonment from one month to one year," says the Article.

"According to this article, victims of abuse, rape, and human trafficking can spend up to one year in prison if they fail to prove the abuser's crime, and the chances of failing are high since it is difficult to legally prove this type of crime," Mamouni elaborated to The New Arab.