Moroccan woman jailed on suspicion of procuring abortion

Moroccan security forces stand guard outside a courthouse holding the trial of Hajar Raissouni on charges of abortion in the capital Rabat Sept 9 2019 Credit Fadel Senna AFP Getty Images Moroccan security forces stand guard outside a courthouse holding the trial of Hajar Raissouni on charges of abortion in the capital Rabat, Sept. 9, 2019. | Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images.

A Moroccan journalist has been jailed for allegedly procuring an abortion and for fornication. The country's penal code bars abortion except in cases when the mother's life is endangered.

Hajar Raissouni, 28, was arrested Aug. 31 as she left a clinic in Rabat, AFP reported. Also arrested were her fiance, Rifaat al-Amin, and a doctor, nurse, and secretary from the obstetrics-gynecology clinic.

Her trial was due to begin Sept. 9, but has been postponed to Sept. 16 following protests.

All five are being held until next week's hearing.

Raissouni writes for Akhbar Al-Yaoum, which is reportedly critical of the Moroccan government.

Prosecutors have said her arrest has "nothing to do with her profession as a journalist," but some worry it is politically motivated.

Raissouni could face as much as two years imprisonment if found guilty.

The doctor, nurse, and secretary have been charged with carrying out and complicity in abortion, and face up to 10 years imprisonment, The Independent reported.

Saad Sahli, a lawyer for Raissouni and al-Amin, said that Raissouni had been receiving treatment for internal bleeding at the clinic where she was arrested.

After her arrest, Raissouni was taken to hospital where she was given a gynecological exam, another of her lawyers said, according to The Independent.

Prosecutors say there were indications of pregnancy and that she had received a "late voluntary abortion."

Rabat officials have also indicated the clinic where the five were arrested if being surveilled, after reports that abortions are regularly procured there.

Raissouni and al-Amin have been religiously, but not legally, married, according to AFP.

Sunni Islam is the established religion of Morocco.

According to a group that support abortion rights, most abortion-related arrests in the country involve medical officials, and only rarely do they include the women who procure abortions.

In 2018, Moroccan courts tried more than 14,500 people for debauchery; 3,048 for adultery; 170 for homosexuality; and 73 for abortions, AFP reported.

Brunei, another Muslim country, adopted a penal code in April that punishes anyone who commits qatl (homicide) on a fetus by intentionally causing its miscarriage with diya (monetary compensation to the child's heirs) and with up to 15 years imprisonment.

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