Prostitution or the accessible body: is the prostitute a victim or criminal?
By Hicham Kasmi
Morocco World News
Meknes, Morocco, August 10, 2012
Yesterday I went to a public library, and I started sailing into the different books and moving from one section to another. Suddenly, I noticed an appealing title on the cover of a book that I couldn’t resist the temptation and desire to open and read. The book was titled “Prostitution or the Accessible Body” (translation is mine) written by Fatima Bouzrirat. As I started reading the book, I discovered that it is the result of field work that took place between the years 1985 and 1994 in Casablanca. I admit that it s a bit old, but it is a very good book as it provides comprehensive coverage to this phenomenon by illustrating its socio-economic factors, and providing some real examples of girls practicing prostitution.
Indeed the reason behind opening this book in the first place was not an interest in the subject of prostitution per-se, but from a desire to answer the one and only question: is the prostitute (I use this term with a totally neutral stance) a victim or criminal for her situation? At the first glance, it may seem very easy to answer this question, but when getting deeper in analyzing the phenomenon, it becomes clear that things are not that easy. Hence, in what follows, I will be drawing on Mrs. Bouzrirat’s findings, without forgetting to express my personal point of view.
As mentioned earlier, it is never easy to have a stance about the issue of prostitution or to pin point the reasons, as a lot of factors are intermingled to cause this problem. The first factors are poverty and illiteracy. It goes without saying that in Morocco, especially at the time that the above-mentioned study was held, there were and are a great number of illiterate people among both genders.
Yet, the percentage of female illiteracy is greater than of men, which results in a group of helpless girls with no qualifications to integrate in society or have a job. Consequently, the only jobs offered for them are: waitress, maid, or working in a factory. These jobs in turn are not well appreciated and respected by Moroccan society, which may account for the fact that these girls endure sexual harassment on a daily basis and might even be offered huge amounts of money to practice prostitution. Admittedly, poverty, illiteracy and money may not be enough to orient the woman toward prostitution, but they are tangible examples that these girls have some exceptional circumstances, and that prostitution is not always their first choice (maid, waitress…etc).
Additionally, the writer noted divorce as another important cause of prostitution. Reflecting upon Moroccan society nowadays, one can readily notice the increasing number of divorced women. Unfortunately for this paper, we will not dig deeper into the reasons of divorce as our interest is the relationship between divorce and prostitution.
As soon as the woman is divorced, she is directly labeled “Hajala” (divorced) with all the negative connotation of this word, which implies that she is a woman who couldn’t keep her husband and save her house. Consequently, she is the one to be blamed for the failure of the marriage and not the man. In some cases, this woman has children and she is in need for a job. Again, without any qualifications or the help of her family or her ex-husband who doesn’t t bother himself to take care of his children, she is left with limited number of choices. I have to repeat that divorce may not be enough to orient the woman toward prostitution, but still, we can’t deny that these cases exist in our society, and that we no longer live in a world where the rich helps the poor and the strong helps the weak.
Interestingly, the writer had some conversations with these women which uncover their psychology and attitudes toward their “job”. Most of the respondents refer to the money they got as “Floss Laharam” (forbidden money) using the religious word “haram” which highlights the fact that they are never proud of what they do. They also refer to themselves as “Moskhat” (dirty) and that they always take many showers everyday which can tell how disgusted they are with their bodies. Another interesting fact is that they are never sober when practicing prostitution; instead they always drink wine before going out, for the simple reason that they can’t forgive themselves for practicing prostitution.
At the end, I must say that there are other reasons for this phenomenon, but I only highlighted the mentioned reasons as they are the most apparent. Recall that over-generalization is not allowed, as the focus is only an analysis of a tiny portion of the women involved in prostitution. Still, we cannot deny that a number of those we consider beneath humans, suffer silently, and they didn’t choose to be prostitutes, instead it was imposed on them as they do not have the qualifications one has, the tender parents one has, or the supportive family members one has. Last but not least, there is no intention to legitimize prostitution, but it is an invitation to reconsider the idea that the prostitutes are the only ones responsible for their situation, because, indeed, we (the society) have a role to play in both causing and solving this problem, and it is time to assume this responsibility.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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