Making the Life of a Woman Worth Everyday Consideration

Maroc Mama asks the always-pertinent question: “What do women really need?” Her answer might surprise you.


Wife, mom, student, activist, traveler, Moroccophile and curious spirit 32 comments

Monday, March 29th, 2010

As a curious undergraduate student in the fall of 2004 I undertook a sociology project focused on the Moudawana (Moroccan family code), without knowing that in just a short time I would find myself personally engaged in the issue-as the wife of a Moroccan citizen. Of course, this was all before I had even met my now spouse, and at a time when everyone (in the United States at least) was all to eager to write-off any forward thinking policies in the Islamic world. Then, as now, I do firmly believe that the implementation of this policy is a step forward for the women of Morocco. However simply changing the laws does not mean that they will be enforced, nor does it mean that women will reap the benefits from the change. The cultural residue of the past continues to hold women back at home and in professional life.

There are two major areas in which I believe Morocco needs to focus attention. These areas go hand in hand with the Moudawana reform and would drastically increase the standard of living for women in Morocco. The hurdles are financial stability and the cultural acceptance of abuse; while more and more women are continuing with secondary and university education, many may find themselves passed over for job opportunities in favor of men. Morocco’s high unemployment rate helps to foster this pattern as many feel that if there are not enough jobs for men, then why should a woman be hired? For married women who are able to secure a job, often the burdens of running a home are not lessened. In conjunction with working a full-time job, many still shoulder 100% of the household burden. If children are in the picture, childcare must also be secured either with a family member, nanny or a private facility. It’s an exhausting prospect to simply read about – it’s no surprise that women would choose not to work outside the home.

For women who choose to work solely in the home, the risk of financial insecurity is real. While not all women who work in the home have problems with finances, for those who find themselves in abusive situations the risk is multiplied. From speaking with many Moroccan women in less than optimal home situations, facing emotional or physical abuse (or both) the feeling is that they have no choice but to stay and make the best of the situation. If they do manage to leave they face repudiation by their family, their ex-husbands family as well as other community members. They fear the loss of their children to the father. They fear the shame of their families. They fear the prospect of living the rest of their lives alone. And most of all they fear having no where else to turn. Few have money of their own accessible to help them make it through the transition. In a culture that places a high value on honor, the act of divorce is often seen as a tarnish of honor.

The same sentiment that encourages women to stay in an abusive relationship is what contributes to the abuse itself. The notion of “what happens in the house is between the husband and wife,” is far too common. I have had family members tell me that if a woman were being abused and called the police the officer would laugh and hang up the phone. For a woman who has no means of financial independence, children to care for, and an abusive husband there is little recourse except to accept the abuse and try to survive.

While some of these issues, particularly the deeply ingrained cultural issues, may work themselves out with time, in the short run Morocco should be working to encourage and support financial independence for women. If they are able to care for themselves and their children the playing field in the marriage will become more even. No longer does she need to stay in the marriage simply due to economics, but will be able to make the choice that is the best for her. The Moudawana was created to improve the lives and increase the rights of women. In order to support this, Morocco must strive to bring about a complete reform that makes everyday life as important as the major milestones (birth, marriage, divorce, and death) that the Moudawana encompasses.

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Posted on Monday, March 29th, 2010

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32 comments on “Making the Life of a Woman Worth Everyday Consideration”

  1. Samir living in Morocco

    I personally think women should stay at home and take care of their children. The Mudawana has made many young women rebellious. They prefer to have boyfriends to husbands. This makes me sad because my girlfriend doesn’t want me to marry her. She says she has the right to choose who she wants to live with without any commitment. This means one day she can choose another boyfriend and sack me from her flat.

    • سر اسمير الله يمسخك انت و التعليق اديالك. كن كنت راجل كاع ما اتكون مهدد
      In other words, be a good fucker and she won’t abandon you. Instead she will beg you to stay if you keep staying on her body from all positions.

    • So you are basically saying the fact that she has more freedom now and is taking advantage of it is wrong? I mean yeah, she can leave you. She is a human and has the same value as any man. She can do whatever she wants. But if you treat her well and make her happy then most likely she will stay. Thats a pretty simple concept right?

  2. Could we please stick to a civilized debate?
    @ Karim, If you want to hook up with the author, at least please do have the decency the use approriate words.

    @ Samir : let’s suppose for the moment you were rights, do you have any evidence, any figures to back your statement ? It seems to me you have girlfriend issues…

    • Jillian York

      I have deleted Karim’s comment. As a woman, I found it completely unacceptable.


  3. So much for the “enlightened and free discussions on what matters”…

    No wonder! There aren’t that many educated Morroccan people. Most of the population is illiterate.

    P.S: The author resembles Lily Cole.

  4. @fly
    You seem to make matters worse by trying to mend them. Now you aren’t criticizing the author whose comment was deleted but also the country he’s supposedly from. Your comment should also be deleted as it is attacking a whole nation and not just a seemingly ignorant person.

    BTW, how do you know he’s Moroccan? Anyone can assume any name and pretend to be from any country. There are no ways to check on that.

    • I’m not trying to mend anything. I’m expressing disgust at the sort of thinking Karim has exhibited. The guy has a primitive mind, and was completely out of line.

      I know how pervasive his thinking is in the Moroccan society. It’s what happens in taboo cultures where an out-of-weddlock sex life is demonized and people’s most basic needs and desires are repressed.

      So I’m “attacking a whole nation” for being backwards and having so much illiteracy and hocus-pocus in its midst. What’s the big deal?

  5. Living in Morocco

    @Samir- you’re problem is not Moudawana, it’s the type of relationship you are in. If you want a woman like the one you describe, follow the Sunnah, stop having a “girlfriend” and find a wife who wants the same things you do.

  6. @fly,
    Just come to Morocco and see how people are sexually liberated despite the views by people like you who presumably have never been there who still think that Morocco is a conservative society from one end to another.

    Concerning backward views I think they can be held even seemingly educated people.

    Concerning the author Mama Maroc, I appreciate her views they truly depict the reality of Moroccan women which still needs improvement.

    • “Just come to Morocco and see how people are sexually liberated”

      I am in Morocco, and I don’t see much sexual liberation. We’ll talk when sodomy, extra-marital sex and selling sex toys isn’t criminalized. The country has archaic laws (religiously-fuelled, of course!).

  7. Samir living in Morocco

    For you sexual freedom is to sodomise and be sodomised and to have sex outside marriage although one is married. You can also defend incest, bestiality and paedophilia for complete sexual freedom!

    I’ll be glad if you talk to me about your own experience in being sodomised and the pleasure you get out of it and the methods you use to get away with it despite the Moroccan intransigent laws about it.

    You seem to have an issue with religion and sex because you were the subject of “falaka” when a child as a way to force you to learn the Koran.

    • You’re comparing sexual relations between two consenting adults to the sexual abuse children. It would appear that your moral compass is seriously broken.

      Don’t embarrass yourself in such a way just to defend fairy tales. No sensible person would do this.

  8. Samir living in Morocco

    Since you defend sodomy, you must be a gay and you are a member of kif kif and MALI. . Just say it openly and stop buzzing at me like a fly. و بركة ما تبقى اتزنزن عليا كي شي ذبانة

    • You’re mistaken. I’m not defending sodomy. I am pleading for certain freedoms.

      If you can tell me how two men/women fiddling with each other’s genital part hurts you, I am willing to listen.

  9. Samir living in Morocco

    you said,
    “We’ll talk when sodomy…..isn’t criminalized. ”
    Then you say, “I’m not defending sodomy.” Anyone can see you’re contradicting yourself.

    Any behaviour in private is nobody’s concern. But Morocco isn’t yet ready for open gay relationship as it is in the West, at least for the safety of gays. Do you think an openly gay couple can be safe in Morocco?

    Personally, I don’t think i will get hurt when i see two women fiddling with each other’s genital. But it comes to two men, that’s very disgusting. For me it’s synonymous with cannibalism, the highest level of barbarism.

    • I’m not defending sodomy. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s repulsive too. I think smoking is repulsive and I wouldn’t defend it. But I would defend both the freedom to practice sodomy and to light up a cigarette.

      As for locking up gays for their own safety, it fails flat as an argument. The law presents sodomy as something perverse and the jail sentences are punishments for deviant behavior.

      So, again, how does male-male sex hurt or threaten you? Do you think that you’ll start taking it up the bum if it were to be decriminalized? How can choice threaten you?

      • Samir living in Morocco

        We can’t agree , but let’s agree to disagree. Sexual behaviour isn’t about being criminalised or decriminalised. It’s about morality. You can also ask me how drug taking of all kinds hurts me. There is certain behaviour that is acceptable in some societies but not in others.
        and finally my philosophy about thebum is that : اللي اعطا زكو لهلا يفكو

        Which means for non-Moroccan Arabic speakers:
        They who offer their asses,
        let them put up with the consequences.

  10. “Sexual behaviour isn’t about being criminalised or decriminalised.”

    In this case it is!

    As for rhyming proverbs, they’re just empty rhetoric. Not some sort of magic “argument”.

  11. Samir living in Morocco

    Agreed! Is this what you want me to tell you?

    It was a pleasure to have a long running argument with you.

    I can’t convince you. You can’t convince me.
    I hope we can have a thorough disagreement on another topic.

    Till then, have a good week!

  12. Well that got a bit of topic now didn’t it?

    • Sorry MarocMama.
      It was Karim who started it all. Then “fly” added fuel to fire by keeping buzzing in my ears with his unacceptable comments like describing Moroccan people in abject terms.
      Both “fly” and Karim should be tried on this blog!

  13. Not a problem Samir – just thought I’d try to pull it back around. I appreciate your passion for the subject and defending your POV. Now a TM trial wouldn’t that be something…

  14. Royal Air Moroc has a new Livery now?

  15. Sodomy is deviant behavior. Only those that don’t truly understand the term deviant wouldn’t understand that.

    One also wonders if the guy who said he wouldn’t be hurt by two women being together is also the type of guy who enjoys watching two women together. :( Morality is morality.

    • If you count heterosexual sodomy, I doubt it’s deviant, even in Morocco. In fact, I hear it’s an alternative to “regular” sex in order to prevent the loss of one’s “virginity.”

      Nevertheless, even if you could make the claim that homosexual sodomy is deviant based on the definition of deviant alone, I’m not even sure that’s accurate. In a society that has for so long oppressed homosexuals (not just Morocco, but global society), do we really have a sense of just how “normal” it might be?

  16. I should have been more clear and even stated that by numbers alone sodomy is a deviant act.

    Anyway, I am all for women’s rights but I also think that this really needs to be a cultural shift. Employing women over men will cause problems just as it has in American society. This need for two incomes came about after “women’s liberation”. Once more and more people got used to having two incomes it became harder and harder to “survive” without it. Though of course the concept of survival changed drastically as well.

  17. I won’t comment on the sodomy issue because it has nothing to do with my essay but on the other point. I don’t think I said women should be hired over men – rather both should be considered equally for a job in which they are both qualified; just as in other nations. I would have to say that for the most part in Morocco a dual-income family is needed. Just looking at the numbers, many men can not afford to marry until they are in the mid 30’s – 40’s because they simply can not afford the marriage, nor the lifestyle that the bride requires. Also for many women having professional aspirations are there, but this is frowned on after marriage.

    Women without educational or professional skills are alright if nothing goes amiss and their spouse can financially support them, however what if the spouse dies or the woman finds herself in a situation where she needs to be able to care for herself or be stuck in a bad situation. For many women around the world, their options are to leave a bad situation and starve or stay and deal with it because they are totally dependent on the breadwinner.

  18. So, how did an article about the value of women go so far off course to have a argument between two men about sodomy? I’d like to ask people’s ideas about the reality of the moudawana being able to help women in smaller cities and farm areas. Does it ever happen? I can think of my family there and I see things to make me think its not really helping many women. My husband grew up there, I didnt. We had a talk today about how he is worried his father, who has land, houses, a military pension, and is expected to get a large inheritance soon will divorce his mom, who is sick with diabetes, and tell her out after 40 years or more of marriage, and 8 kids, (all adults, except two who died as babies) and marry a girl, 15. And, my husband thinks his father will not have any problem in doing it and his mother will not have anything, not even maintenance from him, he will just divorce her and tell her out. right now even, while my father-in-law has money he is never the one to buy her medicine, take her to the doctor, or hospital, my husband does it. My husband is not on good terms with his father, and says he has a sick mind. But, he also accepts this as something no one can do anything about. I was educated in the USA. I read the moudawana and it appears to be focused on younger women with kids, not someone like my mother in law, may Allah bless her. She is the kindest, sweetest woman ever and I love her dearly and if my father-in-law is really going to do this I want to help her. I know her sons will help her to live, but why should her husband have free ability to do such a horrible thing? In the real world, what can be done to help her, and where do you go for such help? They live in a province, near a small city, but not in a big city.
    Thanks for any help or ideas, comments, negative or positive are fine. I will try learn from both.

  19. alice frances

    Noor you have identified very clearly the need for the reform in law, and if this step helps someone like your mother in law, or the millions of other women in Maroc, then it must be a good thing.
    Women need to free themselves, in their minds, first, and a reform in law towards greater independence and stability, financial and emotional, will aid this process.
    I am convinced it is women, not men, who need to do the work on changing the society, firstly, by changing our beliefs about our human rights, our value, our importance.
    All women across the globe, not just Moroccan women, need this shift.
    Islam is a major religion, and its precepts can be interpreted wrongly, just as Christianity was altered to suit politically powerful individuals throughout history. It needs to be ‘reinterpreted’ in favour of women’s rights, but beyond that, we need to stop worrying about religion and morality and get to the crux of the matter, women are human beings with in alienable rights, and these rights are being denied and blocked by a system of APARTHEID, a despicable system that cause outrage were it based on colour or race, so why is sex and gender APARTHEID accepted across the globe?
    We women need to wake up and smell the coffee, we have the power and we will make the change on this planet.
    Firstly; do not accept any man in your life who imagines his rights supersede yours.
    Secondly; Limit the birthing of children, reduce the population on this planet
    Thirdly; Get involved in politics

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