The Girl in the Skirt
You may wonder what is it like to be a woman who lives in a country that lacks security?
Morocco, Northern Africa
Story by Hajar Lassiliya
Published on April 18, 2020. Reading time: 4 minutes
Content Warning: This story contains mentions of sexual violence and sexual assault that can be upsetting for some readers.
According to the “woman stats project,” Morocco scored the lowest scale in 2019, you may wonder what is it like to be a woman who lives in a country that lacks security?
My name is Hajar I’m a 25 years-old female and I live in Agadir, Morocco. This society is a collective one, where old patriarchic traditions and Islamic beliefs prevail. Women are ranked in a lower position than men. We have very limited freedom; going out, experiencing life, and determining the future of own lives depends mostly on men, especially in rural areas. It’s up to the father, brother and sometimes even relatives to determine what a woman should or should not do and how we must live our lives. It’s only during a recent couple of decades that seeing women sitting alongside men in cafés in big cities of Morocco became socially acceptable.
In 2015, two young girls wearing skirts were attacked by a raging crowd in Inezgane, a conservative city adjacent to my city Agadir, because it is considered inappropriate to wear skirts. However, in the city center, a girl wearing a short dress is acceptable. Sometimes wearing something like skirts can put your life in danger, to be safe women tend to cover their bodies where they are in such areas.
You will probably ask me to be the change that I want to see in my society. But I’m too afraid to do so; if I hear names, I lower my head and I walk away, if I want to wear a skirt, I make sure to go to a touristic place and to go by car. I’m afraid to walk alone in the street. I’m used to being called names in the street. As long as they don’t come near me, I’m good. Moroccan women are used to enduring daily harassment whenever they go out in public, we grow up hearing catcalling and we think it’s normal even if it’s not.
There is a story that I can’t take out of my head. It is a story of a girl who was raped on the beach of Rabat, the capital of Morocco by two men. Things like that are usually hidden to not bring shame to the family, but she was brave enough to speak up. But you know what most people ask her: it is what were you wearing? Like it was her fault, like that could justify their act of raping her. It’s never a man’s fault, it’s always women’s fault, no matter what.
In most cases women who are raped are kicked out of the house because they bring shame to the family (abortion is illegal in Morocco) if not she will run away by her free will, she will find herself alone with a baby, prostitution may be the only open door that she will find. A whole life that is destroyed because of someone else’s fault.
I think that looking to be equal with men is too ambitious, I’m looking only to be respected.
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