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  • Moroccan activists hold the poster of Hajar Raissouni, a journalist charged with fornication and abortion, during a protest outside the Rabat tribunal, Morocco September 9, 2019.

    Moroccan activists hold the poster of Hajar Raissouni, a journalist charged with fornication and abortion, during a protest outside the Rabat tribunal, Morocco September 9, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 10 September 2019

The journalist was arrested on Aug. 31 and accused of voluntary abortion after been accused of "late voluntary abortion."

A Moroccan journalist, Hajar Raissouni, who works for the daily Akhbar Al-Yaoum, went on trial Monday, accused by the government of voluntary abortion and pre-marital sexual relationships, acts considered felonies in Morocco which could lead to at least two years in prison.

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The journalist was arrested on Aug. 31 after been accused of "late voluntary abortion," something her lawyer denied arguing her client was undergoing treatment for internal bleeding.

As Raissouni entered the courtroom, hundreds gathered outside to protest against the trial chanting for "Hajar's freedom" and demanding rights such as freedom of speech and women's choice to abort and maintain consenting sexual relations without having to be married.

"Instead of intimidating Hajar Raissouni by prosecuting her on unjust charges, the authorities should immediately and unconditionally release her," said Heba Morayef, Amnesty's regional director, last week.

Raissouni's case has taken a political undertone due to her work in a news outlet that is very critical of the current goverment.

The owner of the newspaper, Taoufik Bouachrine, was charged in November for sexual assault and condemned to twelve years in a trial condemned by the U.N. Human Rights observers as they were banned from the hearings.

However, the Moroccan government affirmed the case was not political and that Raissouni had broken the law as well by having sexual relationships with her partner before a wedding. 

According to official figures, Moroccan courts last year tried more than 14,500 people for "debauchery", 3,048 for adultery, 170 for homosexuality, and 73 for having abortions.

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