Saturday, February 04, 2017

Fez in Spat Over Spa Segregation

Morocco was crowned the best spa destination in Africa at the "World Spa Awards" awards ceremony recently held in Italy

A report from the official Maghreb Arabe Presse says that the Kingdom won the "Africa's Best Spa Destination 2016" thanks to "its spas and modern luxury facilities offering a wide range of body treatments and massages."

And, according to The Economist, the tourism wellness industry displays a growth rate of 10% per year even as other segments of the sector stagnated in Morocco. In September 2014, the annual turnover of the Moroccan wellness tourism market was estimated at $253 million. The cities of Marrakech, Agadir, Fez and Tetouan all have several centres of thalassotherapy, fitness and spas.

In light of this it was strange to read news this week that the Fez City Council was moving against hairdressing salons, spas and beauty salons that have mixed sex spaces. Controversy followed the Fez City Council’s ordinance, with a backlash on social media and in the press. According to The Economist  Fez Mayor Idrizz El Azami decided during a Communal Council to implement a segregation order on spas and beauty centres in Fez, ruling that these establishments will have to provide separates spaces for men and women.

The public reaction prompted a quick toning down of the original conservative message. "The order does not rule on the question of the prohibition of diversity in beauty salons, and does not apply to spas and massage parlours," said Mayor of Fez, Driss El Azami Idrissi. So, it was "fake news"!
Mixing is practiced in hotel spas and, according to some newspapers, is strictly reserved for tourists. As if the Moroccans, in their own country, was a second-class citizen. Regardless of whether a couple is married, they can not benefit from the same benefits. In his own country, the Moroccan is the victim of discrimination, does not have the same freedom granted to his honourable visitors. - Meriem H. Hamou Huffington Post
Writing in the Huffington Post, Meriem H. Hamou points out that "the reason given by the council of the city is to 'organise these professions' and to fight against the use of certain spaces as a screen for practicing prostitution. It is not by creating different spaces in hairdressers that those who take advantage of this kind of practices, condemnable in all respects, will stop suddenly. The very notion of separation is "segregationist", in contradiction with the spirit of freedom and gender equality".

So, for the moment, the spat is over...jacuzzi. anyone?

Spa and massage at Hotel Sarai in Fez - business as usual


No comments: