Morocco court annuls ruling on paternity outside marriage

(iStock)
(iStock)

Rabat  - A Moroccan appeals court has struck down a ruling that for the first time recognised a man as the father of a child born outside of marriage.

The decision by the Tangiers appeals court sparked anger among human rights activists.

A lower Tangiers court had in January ruled that the man was the father of a girl born to a woman that was not his wife, based on DNA tests provided by the mother, a first in the North African country.

The father had then been ordered to pay the mother $10 600 although the child was not granted other family rights such as inheritance.

The appeals court on Tuesday overturned the judgement and ordered the mother to pay legal costs, defence lawyer Ahmed Guennoun told AFP.

"This is a great disappointment for the mother and her loved ones," he said.

"We are going to appeal to the Court of Cassation (Morocco's top court) and place our hopes in its judges."

News website Medias 24, which broke the original story, said the appeal court had "just smothered what looked like the start of a legal revolution".

Insaf, an NGO that supports women and children in distress, said the Moroccan justice system was helping men avoid "taking responsibility for their actions... to the detriment of a newborn".

Morocco officially bans sexual relations outside marriage and considers children born out of wedlock as "illegitimate".

More than 7 out of 10 fathers of children born outside of marriage are informed prior to the birth, but most refuse to recognise the child as theirs, according to a 2011 report by Insaf and the United Nations.

The same report said nearly 30 000 single mothers give birth in the country each year, and are condemned to a life of "exclusion, rejection, discrimination and even exploitation".

Some instead opt for abortions, which have been legal since 2015 in cases such as pregnancies resulting from rape or malformation of the foetus.

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