Codifying Polygamy in the 1957 Moroccan Mudawwana

Morocco editor Ari Schriber discusses Morocco’s 1957 Personal Status Code, the country’s first unified set of family law statutes. He addresses the provisions concerning polygamy in particular, and the government’s attempts to evoke an Islamic basis for legalizing polygamy while simultaneously appearing to limit it in the name of protecting women.

“The 1957 Personal Status Code (Mudawwanat al-Aḥwāl al-Shakhṣiyya) of Morocco legislated the country’s first unified set of family law statutes. Its statutes stipulated legal matters relating to marriage, divorce, legal capacity, testament, and inheritance. The government proclaimed the Mudawwana as a sign of progress and modernity while simultaneously insisting on its adherence to traditional Mālikī law. A conspicuous family law issue like polygamy would seem to present a litmus test for the Mudawwana’s actual standing within these political discourses. However, the Mudawwana’s imprecise restrictions on polygamy instead demonstrate the government’s preference for broad political symbolism above clear legislation.”

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