Single Mothers in Morocco
Written by Salma Takky
In Morocco, likewise around the Islamic world, people are defined in connection to ‘the other’, traditions and norms. However, the situation sounds much worse when bringing women’s issues to the forefront as long as women are unaccepted to be seen outside the sex cage, functioning mainly to fulfill men’s needs. Therefore, women could never be witnessed as “trespassing “the domestic chains. As a result of such stereotypes, among others of course, the society comes to set eyes on weak and docile bodies, bastards or angles of the house.
Interestingly, the idea seems even more shocking when bringing the subject of single mothers into discussion. They are badly represented especially in the eyes of the mainstream culture, which is a shame as they can also offer the possibility of understanding the psychological perspectives that people hold towards the issue. Single mothers only function as pieces of trash that people unconsciously close their noses to, trying to evade the unbearable smell. These women receive horrifying treatment on a daily basis, because Islam strictly forbids any sexual intercourse out of marriage. In this regard, it is important to note that sex is verboten for both boys and girls. The irony of all that is, because of “the hymen “, only girls are stigmatized. Moreover, “the intact hymen” serves to churn out the family’s honor, which relies heavily on people’s cognition. A non-virgin is usually weighed as loose, a slut or even a whore since she has offered up her sacred body for free.
I believe that the importance of a girl’s virginity and its strong association with honor and her family’s honor is deeply rooted in the Moroccan culture. This importance is structured and revealed in the Moroccan penal code, which makes loss of virginity an aggravating circumstance of rape. The article 475 obliges women to marry their alleged rapists. This cultural association between virginity and honor constitutes an oppressive ideology which permeates the discourse of rape trials and generates a number of confusions that are detrimental to the victims of rape. Moreover, the fact that sex outside marriage is forbidden by Islam, generates a number of negative assumptions about the rape victim’s social image and virtue, and tends to categorize them according to a number of female stigmatized stereotypes.
The important thing that must be considered is that going into detail, this topic holds a lot of sentimentality for me, trying to represent the suppressed women whose voices are muted because of the dourness of my country’s traditions. Speaking out like this and writing about single mothers gave me the opportunity to resist and shake the power of male hegemony. Thinking that men are more powerful, more educated and perhaps more civilized only exacerbates the biological differences between the sexes. Hence, patriarchy provides permission to men to freely deal with their female counterparts as objects. For example, men hold the absolute power to repeatedly violate and beat women, since the they feel the practice provides an educational purpose. It is just striking (excuse the pun) to see the way violence agains and oppression of women is discussed within mainstream culture.
Following this vein, the important thing that must be considered is that my experience in Ibtissama Center for single mothers was indelible. I was delighted to meet so many powerful, great and resistant women who are brave enough to put up with the discriminative behavior codes that stretches our society to the limits. One of the unforgotten single mothers I met is Halima, a young girl of only nineteen. She was pregnant with a baby boy, and she opened her heart as we easily became friends. She did not realize how much effect she had on me as she told me how she became a teenage mother almost overnight. I cannot forget the flowing of tears she wore whenever she proceeded with the story. However, I made a vow of keeping private the minute details, once I was able to voice her thoughts. Halima, like her sisters, suffers from serious segregation, intolerance, brutality and discrimination, both in the private arena and the public. Tragically, another mother, Fadwa El Aroui, 21, single mother of two children, committed suicide in Casablanca, and the infamous case of Amina El Filali, a 16-year-old girl from North Morocco, also committed suicide by drinking rat passion, putting an end to their intolerable lives.
Undoubtedly, Fadoua and Amina’s cases provide a clear picture of the torture Halima and other single mothers undergo in a society that turns a blind eye on the intellectual abilities of women. However, Halima understands that suicide is not the right solution, but I believe that bearing these horrendous obstacles is an act of power and resistance. In one of our chats Halima declared:”It feels super awesome being surrounded by people who share the same pain, the same torment and the same hope”. She added, ”We are more than a family (even my biological family threw me away, the moment they heard that I am no longer a virgin I turned into a piece of burden ) we laugh, we cry and mostly we comfort each other in times of sorrow and help each other move on with our unfair destiny”. Halima concluded, “I am so glad I found a space where I am able to speak out the unsaid without being judged.” Halima ‘s words were so powerful, keeping our fingers crossed for a day when she could open her heart to the world without owing to the power of the culture.
I keep all the single mothers I interacted with in my thoughts, hoping for a brighter tomorrow where justice would light the dark lives of these teenagers and where people would not be judged and valued according to their status.