Gender-based violence in Morocco

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In this touching story of a woman forced into domestic labor at the age of 6, a Moroccan woman named Alkabira, who claims she suffered abuse as a child, told United Nations that she always felt lonely staying behind closed doors for a period of 25 years.

‘Completely broken…that’s exactly how I felt in the marriage,’ Alkabira explained, adding that she was tormented with physical and verbal abuse but had to endure in silence.

Her emotional challenges continued until she thought of ending the violent marriage but, on her family’s insistence, particularly for the stigma associated with divorce, the suffering wife persevered.

‘I was most concerned about the negative impact it would have on my children,’ Alkabira noted. ‘My husband was lazy and incapable of feeding his family…My son and daughter had to drop out of school because they had to support me in providing for everyone.’

Unfortunately, Alkabira’s husband opposed hospital visitations and use of contraceptives. They had four children. But the additional burden of raising her sister’s nine children under the same roof made live unbearable. The abuse victim feared she might suffer similar fate like her “helpless” sister.

‘My sister eventually died, leaving me with two children who are disabled and had to stay at home all the time,’ Alkabira said.

According to the 2011 National Survey on Population and Family Health, men are the sole decision-makers on family planning roughly 18 percent of the time. Additionally, Morocco has a population of 36.2 million. Its fertility rate (2.4), maternal mortality ratio (121) and contraceptives prevalence rate (69) are evident in the high level of unwanted pregnancies, low life span and untimely deaths. Over 25% of the total population is between 10 and 25 years old. Secondary school enrollment ratio among boys and girls in the North African country is 60:54.

Amid sobs, Alkabira expressed how guilty she still felt for withdrawing her son from elementary school. ‘It was a hard decision I had to make—to make ends meet…My daughter also bore the weight of his violence.’

UNFPA confirmed it was Alkabira’s daughter who first decided to break the silence before the helpless woman joined Al-Bathaa Centre, a UNFPA-supported learning program for survivors of gender-based violence.

‘I benefitted a lot from the center, particularly the psychological support and counselling…A team of legal professionals there also helped me get through my legal procedures for divorce,’ Alkabira noted.

‘I regret not doing this earlier.’

This unique story from Alkabira emphasizes the fact that violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world.

In Morocco, about 63% of women aged between 18 and 64 have experienced some form of gender-based violence.

At UNFPA’s Al-Bathaa Centre, there are policies aimed at fostering gender equality and empowering women without discrimination of any kind. As one of UN’s lead agencies working to address the physical and emotional consequences of gender-based violence, UNFPA offers psycho-social assistance, medical treatment and rape kits to survivors. In addition, the agency promotes women and girls’ right to live free of violence and abuse.

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