During my short stay in Morocco, I was fortunate enough to have staff in our Cross Cultural Solutions house willing to answer any questions that arose. The main priority of the CCS staff was to educate and make us feel comfortable throughout the duration of our stay. Khadija, one of the women in the house who spoke english, was kind enough to have a cultural talk about women and their rights in Morocco. Our talk went on for nearly two hours, so I picked what I deemed the most relevant points she made to share with you.
1. 50% of women in Morocco are illiterate. Majority of the country does not know how to read or write. However, women are slowly gaining more prominent roles in society. Around 25% of judges and 20% of doctors and lawyers are women.
2. No sex before marriage is still heavily valued Morocco. If a woman gets married and appears to not be a virgin, it often leads to divorce because they are not pure. Some women even go the extremes of stitching themselves up to appear a virgin.
3. The Hijab is a choice. Surprisingly wearing the Hijab is not required but heavily encouraged. Women get to choose when they start wearing the Hijab. Some don’t wear it until marriage, some start wearing it once they become a women, and some never chose to wear it. This typically depends on how conservative the town the girl grows up in is and if the family pressures them to wear one. When women are in the house with immediate family they do not have to wear the hijab. They wear it in public for modesty and out of respect for the husband.The most frowned upon situation is when a girl wears a hijab and then stops wearing it, you are better off not wearing it to begin with.
4. Abortion is illegal and there is no sex education because it is shameful to talk about it. However, birth control is free for all women, but since they women are uneducated about it doesn’t help. Though the government declared abortion illegal, women do get a 14 month maternity leave when they have a child.
5. Marriage is arranged and dating rules are strict. When women begin to date they can’t hang out alone with a man and must have a third person present. If a man intends to “date” you they should propose before continuing. You are not allowed to kiss or show affection in public without running the risk of getting arrested. Today, under the new law, women aren’t allowed to get married until they are at least 18 years of age and can sign their own marriage contracts with someone else present.