In Morocco, the scandal “sex against good grades” splashes the universities

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Graduation ceremony at the University of Rabat, in February 2019.

Professors sued, an omerta that breaks. For several weeks, an unprecedented scandal has splashed the universities in Morocco. Known as “sex for good grades”, it gained momentum with the revelations in the press and on social networks of a series of cases of sexual harassment in certain establishments in the kingdom.

On December 28, in Oujda (northeast), dozens of students demonstrated to protest against the sexual harassment allegedly inflicted by a teacher on several students of the National School of Commerce and Management (ENCG), of the ‘Mohammed-I Universityis. Screenshots of conversations had been posted the day before on social networks: it was about “Fellatio session” against validation of the semester. An exchange with another student also circulated, as well as an anonymous letter from a young woman claiming to have been forced to leave school due to pressure from the teacher.

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Although no complaint has yet been filed, these accusations have been taken seriously by the Ministry of Higher Education, which has dispatched a commission of inquiry. The teacher was suspended, two ENCG officials were relieved of their duties and the principal was forced to resign. “The person concerned will soon be heard by the disciplinary council”, indicates the presidency of the university, specifying that“A toll-free number and a listening cell for the benefit of complainant students ” were set up.

“I want you to make me these positions”

On December 30, another scandal erupted in academia, this time in Tangier (north). That day, the press revealed that twelve students from the King-Fahd Higher School of Translation (ESRFT), from Abdelmalek-Essaadi University, had lodged a complaint against a professor. The latter allegedly made a student watch a pornographic video, telling her “I want you to make me these positions”, according to testimonies reported by the weekly TelQuel, supporting records. The teacher was suspended and the university launched an anti-harassment scheme.

A similar case of sexual blackmail had already rocked the country in September. Legal proceedings are underway against five professors from Hassan-I Universityis de Settat, near Casablanca, after the posting on social networks of messages of a sexual nature exchanged between a teacher and his students. Four professors will be prosecuted for “Incitement to debauchery”, “gender discrimination”, “violence against women”; the fifth for “indecent assault with violence”, a more serious charge.

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These repeated scandals have sparked outrage on social media. Under the hashtag #MeTooUniv, several women’s rights groups have launched campaigns to get victims to speak out. “We have received hundreds of testimonials from different universities. All denounce acts of harassment to varying degrees and sometimes of blackmail: sexual advances against good grades, validation of modules or internships ”, reports Narjis Benazzou, president of the “outlaw” collective: “What shocked us the most is the scale of the phenomenon and also its normalization, with practices that are often overlooked. “

“Today, students dare to talk about it”

“It’s a taboo that is being broken”, according to Yousra Elberrad, member of the Federation of Women’s Rights Leagues: “Generally, the victims did not file a complaint, for fear of reprisals, fear of the eyes of those around them, fear of being alone against everyone. And when complaints were made, they were sometimes hushed up and went unanswered. Today, students dare to talk about it. The authorities reacted and the ministry seems to have understood the extent of the phenomenon. “

In Morocco, a law entered into force in 2018 makes for the first time punishable by prison sentences acts considered as “Forms of harassment, assault, sexual exploitation or mistreatment”. “This law has opened a door, but it has flaws, in particular the fact that it is the victim who bears the burden of proof”, says Yousra Elberrad. Women’s rights associations demand more guarantees to protect victims and facilitate their access to justice.

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Since these revelations, several universities in the country have set up monitoring units. On a national level, “An ethical and deontological code is being drawn up with the actors of civil society, the objective of which is to eradicate all forms of violence in the university environment”, one indicates to the ministry for higher education. According to a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Planning in 2019, 22% of students have suffered violence in a place of education. In a third of the cases, it was sexual harassment.

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In Morocco, the scandal “sex against good grades” splashes the universities

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