In Morocco, sex outside marriage is forbidden and can even result in a prison sentence. This law only serves to increase the stigmatization of single mothers. These women are often abandoned by the fathers of their children and ostracised by other members of society.
Such is the stigmatisation of single mothers that many Moroccan women risk their lives by having backstreet abortions, which are also banned by Moroccan law, even in cases of rape. More than 800 illegal abortions are performed every day in Morocco, according to a study published by the Institution nationale de solidarité avec les femmes en détresse (National Institution in Solidarity with Women in Danger, or INSAF).
"Morocco is a country of hypocrites"
We planned to marry, but he kept pushing back the date. He told me: "Oh, we aren’t in a rush to do it. I won’t leave you, don’t worry". I was wrong to trust him but, in the meantime, I became pregnant. At the time, I had no idea how a woman becomes pregnant because I had never spoken about this kind of thing with my mother. For me, it was the beginning of a descent into hell.
We fought constantly because he no longer wanted to get married—he didn’t want me anymore. My family had disowned me. It was the worst time in my life. I even filed charges against him, which cost me a lot of money.
"He wanted me to get an abortion but, for me, it was out of the question. Some of my friends died during backstreet abortions”
I eventually forgave him and stopped pressing charges. I spoke to him often about getting married but he always told me that we weren’t in a rush to get married and that he loved our daughter and he would acknowledge her paternity so that she’d have a normal life.
He reassured me by making me believe that he loved me and I let down my guard. I became pregnant for a second time. He wanted me to get an abortion because, with a second child, our life would become even more difficult, but it was out of the question for me. Some of my friends had died while having backstreet abortions. I didn’t want to take the risk.
"I had to move out of my parents’ house after they made it clear that I was the shame and embarrassment of my family”
He eventually left us. He is not at all involved in the lives of his children and I know that the ostracisation I feel will be even worse for them. Moroccan law considers them bastards [Editor’s note: Article 446 of the jurisprudence is harsh en regards to children born out of wedlock. Even if the father chooses to legally recognise the child, the child is classified as “zina”, in other words, the product of "fornication". If the father does not recognise his child, the child’s status as "zina" appears on his or her birth certificate. As a further method to differentiate the child, the particle "abd" is added in front of his or her name, which is chosen by the mother from a list of potential names].
I had to move out of my parents’ house after they made it clear that I was the shame and embarrassment of my family. Now, I work as a cleaner when I can find work. I don’t have a steady job. Sometimes, I work all day and only earn 100 dirhams (or 9 euros). Sometimes, after paying the rent, I don’t have enough to feed my children. I’ve heard that there are organizations that can help us but they are all in Casablanca and I don’t have the money to go there with my two children.
Many people tell me that I should abandon my children because they are the source of my problems. This pressure is hard to deal with. I wish I could have given my children another future. My daughter will be four and I don’t have enough money to enroll her in school. I am illiterate myself and I would have loved for her to be able read.
If I’m not going to work, I don’t go out at all. When people look at me, they immediately think about how I have “sinned,” and I can’t stand it anymore. Morocco is a country of hypocrites.
When gynecologist Chafik Chraïbi was fired after he said he supported abortion during an interview on the France 2 show "Envoyé Spécial" (Special Envoy), people across Morocco responded emotionally, especially on social media.
This controversy also prompted Health Minister Houssaine Louardi to organise a national debate on abortion on March 16. After the debate, there was a call for different ministers to submit bills on abortion within the next month.
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Anissa Jalab (@AnissaTV).