Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Unmarried Mothers in Morocco - a Cry for Help

More than 210,000 pregnant Moroccan women are calling on the head of the Moroccan government, Abdlilah Benkirane, to legalize their pregnancies.   Omar Bihmidine writing for Morocco World News says that the phenomenon of babies being born outside marriage is growing and the mothers involved are making their voices heard: especially as the babies they give birth to usually end up becoming street children with no basic rights.

Such women bear different stories behind their illicit pregnancy. While some of them have fallen prey to empty promises of marriage from irresponsible men, others admit that they have been seduced into indulging in a sexual relationship. Whatever the story, the common denominator is that they continue to suffer day in and day out because of the merciless society where they live.

In spite of the sympathy and understanding evinced by some associations that defend the rights of women, these women still feel alienated in this society where they are looked upon as “impure and dirty”. Owing to lack of maternity centers in Morocco, a number of these women only have recourse to the street, the last resort, where they rear their babies and live by begging.

Feeling neglected, some of these women turn to prostitution to earn a living because they feel compelled to provide their babies with some basic needs, such as food, clothing, education, health. Others have chosen to work as maids, especially after their families have disowned them.

As sexual relationships outside of marriage are considered unacceptable in Moroccan society, some of these women seek assistance from associations that can claim their children’s biological father, recognize their rights of motherhood and help them overcome their problems. In the same vein, these women have recently called on the government to integrate them socially.

Rajae Elmaskouri, a social activist, attributes the frequent occurrence of unwanted pregnancies to the absence of sex education. Elmaskouri explains that these women “have not chosen illicit pregnancies of their own accord. They have rather fallen prey to the ignorance that still characterizes this ‘patriarchal’ society.”


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