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Morocco: The Reality of Prostitution

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Morocco, Economics & Business, Education, Humanitarian Response, Women & Gender

Morocco has the reputation of having a significant rate of prostitution. While it may not be as high as perceived [1] by many in the Gulf countries, Morocco – with the dual distinction of being impoverished and highly touristic – is home to many young women seeking a “way out.” While some go abroad to study or work, others turn to prostitution. Many work in smaller towns in Morocco and are patronized mostly by fellow Moroccans; others become part of Morocco's large and unfortunate sex tourism industry, from which a number of cases [2] are prosecuted each year. Still others turn to the wealthy Gulf countries [3] for work; some make it as hairdressers or entertainers, but others end up – willingly or otherwise – as prostitutes.

One phenomenon in Morocco is that of the student-as-prostitute. Blogger Words For Change has written an excellent piece [4] on the young rural women of Morocco who, finding themselves in the big city for university, end up involved in prostitution. An excerpt:

In the girls’ dorms, Aïcha learned how to dress, to put on make-up, and to talk like a woman. It is also in the university dorms that she was tempted to make some pocket money to pay for the pretty clothes which can make her look like city girls. The first step to the abyss was going out incognito with older men who invited her to good restaurants, and make her discover her charms and feminity. The deadly stab was when she discovered that she had to pay with her body for the few bills to realize her late adolescence fantasies.

Once Aïcha graduated, it was difficult to leave her well-paid night life for miserable desk work or to abandon the lights of the big city for a small house in Lhajeb. She told me with a bitter voice “When I was studying it was just to make pocket money. I didn’t realize that I am a prostitute until it became my full-time job after graduating”. Aïcha is still now living in the city and working as a prostitute to send money to her family and pay for her charges. Her education and beauty make very rich and well-known men from over the world pay for her services.

Another recent post, by Thejoker, touches on [5] what a prostitute in Morocco looks like – anyone else:

There are in fact prostitutes, a simple word from you will turn them on and they will engage automatically a conversation. What is to deplorate is that many of these girls do study, have a poor family and do the job because of a great lack of money. I have seen once a girl, very young, who appeared to me to be virgin, she was scared someone approches her and at the end someone did speak to her, she continued to be fully contracted. It is a real pity what we see in the streets of Casablanca. Some moroccan people say that if a girl doesn't wear the tchadour [veil] then you can be sure that she is a prostitute. It is not like in Europe where the prostitute are recognised by the law. In Morocco it is a real melting pot we cannot know which girl is a prostitute and which girl is not. I suppose that there are some girls wearing jeans and western clothes and who are not prostitutes but every one has to search before finding real love.