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Moroccan parliament debates controversial marriage law after rape victim's suicide

Abdelhak Senna / AFP - Getty Images

Morocco's Solidarity, Women and Family minister Bassima Hakkaoui, the only woman in the new Islamist-led government, speaks during a debate about underage marriage in parliament in Rabat on April 16, 2012, next to Justice minister Mustafa Ramid.

Abdelhak Senna / AFP - Getty Images

Hamida, the sister of Amina Al Filali, holds a poster of her sister during a sit-in protest outside the local court in Larache that had approved the marriage on March 15, 2012.

Morocco's parliament has been debating a controversial law that allows rapists to marry their underage victims after the suicide of a teenage girl last month raised doubts about the effectiveness of reforms to women's rights brought in by King Mohammed VI. 

The North African country's Islamist-led government has been urged by human rights groups to amend article 475 of the penal code, which allows a rapist to marry his victim if she is a minor as a way of avoiding prosecution. 

Sixteen-year-old Amina El-Filali killed herself by swallowing rat poison on March 10 after being severely beaten during a six-month forced marriage to the man who raped her.

--Reuters contributed to this report