You Are Here: Home » News » Africa » Thousands of Nigerian Refugees Fleeing Boko Haram in “Dire Health Situation”

Sexual harassment in Moroccan streets, who is to blame?

Sexual harassment in Moroccan streets, who is to blame?

By Nidal Chebbak

Fez – Sexual harassment has been a controversial issue in Morocco for a very long time and it still is. Different people have different opinions about the issue; some blame women for being too loose and others blame men for being unable to control and behave themselves.

As a Moroccan girl, I can very much relate to this issue as any other Moroccan girl. As I believe, every Moroccan girl/ woman is harassed every time she goes out regardless of her age, shape, color, ethnicity, background… and no matter what she wears, even if she puts on potato bags. Any girl who says the opposite is living in denial because that’s the reality we deal with every day.

Sexual harassment can vary through the constant gazes that checks every inch of the girl’s body from head to toe, the harassing words coming from every corner, the following -or as I’d prefer to call it “the tireless stalking”-, the insistence to get the girl to talk, then it can move too far to the undesired touching of her body.

Men would argue that it’s the women who give way to men to sexually harass them in the streets, especially when they aren’t wearing “decent clothes”. Many men feel that they have the right to harass a woman who is wearing revealing clothes and that this type of clothes is actually an open invitation for harassment. This type of women is labeled as loose and immoral, even if they are not. After all, what’s the fine line between decent and indecent clothes for women? As far as I have experienced, seen and heard, no matter what a woman wears, she’s still going to be harassed at some point in her usual day.

I also think that this whole issue of “indecent clothes” is just a very weak and “loose” excuse for men to carry on their horrendous habits. We are a Muslim country where almost every Muslim Moroccan prides everywhere about being a Muslim (of course, in words but rarely in practice) but still we find these horrible acts that are condemned by our religion. In Surat an-Nur, the Almighty Allah states: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their modesty. That is purer for them, verily Allah is All-Aware of what they do.” (24:30). Isn’t this a verse where the Almighty Allah asks men to lower their gaze and guard their modesty? Did He by any means in this verse or in any other verse state that, well if women aren’t dressing decent enough then you shall harass them? No, He didn’t. Muslim men take pride in being Muslim, but as long as they don’t abide by this and other verses, their pride amounts to bigotry.

No woman is immune from sexual harassment, not even women with the niqab. I once had a friend who was unveiled. Life took us in completely different directions but we met after few years and she was wearing the niqab. We engaged in different conversations that somehow led the issue of the sexual harassment in the street. Her statement about her personal experience was very striking to me that I never forget it. Here is what she said: “You know, I wasn’t always wearing the hijab. At first I was harassed every time I went out, sometimes it was awful and just too much to bear. Then I wore the hijab and thought now that I’m a bit covered and more modest in the way I dressed, harassment would stop or at least diminish, but it didn’t. Then, I felt all guilty about it and was wondering maybe it’s me, maybe I’m not well covered and maybe I’m still a source of “fitna” and I felt very bad about it. I decided to wear the full niqab, no more colors (very dark colors, mostly black), and no more clothes that shows the figure. I felt and still feel very good and at peace with my decision, but I would lie if I say that harassment stopped because it didn’t.I still get the harassing gazes and the harassing words about my eyes (though my face is covered). But at least, I feel that it’s not my fault.”

This conversation was an eye-opening experience for me. It was the first time that I engage in such a deep way about this topic with a friend who wears the niqab and it made me realize that we, girls/women, aren’t immune no matter what we wear.

I highly salute every Moroccan female who goes out and defies all these harassments as bravely as she can, for it has become a daily battle that we sometimes complain about but we mostly accept as an inevitable evil.

Nidal Chebbak is a first year doctoral student at Sidi Mohammed ben Abdellah University of Fez. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in English Studies in 2009 after completing a research paper on Advertising Moroccan Women in Moroccan Magazines, in addition to a Master’s degree in Cultural Studies: Cultures and Identities in Morocco from the University of Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah in Fez; her MA thesis was entitled European Women through the Eyes of Moroccan Travelers 1611-1919. Nidal is also the vice president of the Moroccan Association of Friends of English (MAFE). She served for a year as Morocco World News’ correspondent in Fez.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

Please follow and like us:

Join the Conversation. What do you think?

Comments (112)

  • ummhamza

    As an American Muslimah living in Morocco, this drives me crazy! I have beautiful covered daughters and fear this harassment! I was at the souk, it was around Ashoura and some guys were saying stuff to a young woman. I had to speak up. My arabic is not that good, but they got what I was saying. I told them shame on them! She could be THEIR sister getting this harassment. Alhumdulillah i spoke up. i felt so much better and the brothers who work there, hopefully, will stand up and do the same for these girls next time…inshaAllah!

    • Abdessamad Saidi

      Good job, you did the right thing

    • Marocain du monde

      Surely if the woman rejects this kind of abuse, the others will stand to her side especially if her clothes are decent, though “decent” is a vague notion
      Ummhamza, I thank ALLAH that you knew Islam before you knew Muslims, cos Macha ALLAH we’re not real Muslims as said An American woman who converted to Islam; she told the Saudis who met her in a conference, raising the Cor’an in her right hand : ” If this book the source that preaches Islam, you’re not Muslims, and if you’re Muslims, then this book isn’t yours.

  • Abdellatif Zaki

    Sorry dear friend, this should in no way be inevitable. The lady, ummhamza, reacted and that is a good thing to do. I think if all women decided to stand for one another every time one of them is harassed and demand that other men around assume the ir responsibility, and if they started to sue men harassing them, that would be a beginning. It has nothing to do with religion and religious teachings or reminders do not affect behavior, otherwise, the would have have long ago. It is a matter of social, political, economic, and cultural status of women which should be established as truly equal by law and by the most severe enforcement of law. It is a matter of rights that have to be acknowledged, respected and enforced through education, economic emancipation, and law. It is a matter of freedom of women to use the public space in dignity and as they choose regardless of what some men might think or feel about it.
    A woman should be as entitlesd to wear a mini skirt or tight clothes as she should be to gown herself in a hijab or full niqab against any contrary opinion of ny man or group of men. It is not a moral issue, nor is it a religious issue. It is rather an issue of Human Rights, and therefore, of law the breaking of which is called “crime” and should be punished.

    • Zdo Sail

      thaanks but we should put into acount that sexual harasment was not originated in our culture .since niether our religion nor our culture could tolerate it .In fact it sneaked to our society in parallel with the huge number of fashion and movie broadcasts that spins on sexylife(wamen).When the morocan girl woman or man folowed the west foot steps consciously or unconsciously(in they found them selves behaving as if they were Amerecans not Moroccans the only problem is that :

      girls in those culturs dont complain and pride when harassmed and men conceder it a way of flatring wamen

      • Tom Ledford

        Sexual harassment is not tolerated in American culture. Men who behave badly can expect disapproval from other men and from the law. Anybody who thinks otherwise has not lived in America. A woman has the right to walk down the street clothed however she wishes without being harassed. When you go into a store and look at the merchandise on display, are you being invited to steal it? Of course not! Respect women and be thankful if they share their beauty with you.

        • Marocain du monde

          Arabs can’t stand seeing naked bodies without eating their parts, this is the issue; our desires are insatiable

        • Nurse_Susu

          I’m a Moroccan girl who previously lived in Morocco and now live in the U.S. I have dealt with sexual harassment in the streets of Morocco but I have also faced similar behaviors from American men! Although they were not nearly as aggressive, I am sure that they would have been if it wasn’t for the strict American laws that protect women. I think bad apples who lack respect for women exist in both cultures but the laws here prohibit men from getting too aggressive. I hope similar laws will be followed in Morocco (They are already adopted in papers but not in practice).

      • Bri

        I’m an American woman who has been living in Morocco for 11 months. I have never experienced harassment in America like I have here in the Southeast of Morocco. Honestly, men have made my life a living hell here to the point I go home crying many days because it is nearly impossible to walk to work without being touched or verbally harassed. No one in public stand up for me when this happens. In America, the public usually takes it upon themselves to help out those who are being harassed/assaulted. The punishment is strong, and there is societal outrage when it happens. When I go to the Gendarmes or Police here to discuss harassment, it’s usually laughed at.

        • domar

          Don’t worry about it. You will get used to this aspect of the moroccana society. As you siad, the police laughed at it becuase it is considered as a cultural thing. We don’t consider it as harassement as far as it is just words but not touch. Instead some, women they enjoy it when remarks made about them by men. take it easy!!

          • RKWeiner

            I am an American who lived in the Zagora region for over 2 years. Lrais is completely correct. SHAME THEM PUBLICLY. I stood up for myself, (in Derija) and I very often experienced young men apologizing to me. My rule, however, what that no matter what they said or did to me, I would never respond in any way that would make their mothers disapprove. This means: no foul language. I used many techniques, but some included turning around and asking them “Have your parents forgotten to teach you how to talk to girls in the street?” or “Do you have a problem? You’re not an animal, so don’t act like one.” or “Really? You’re going to say that to me? Would you say that to your sister or your mother?” or “G-d curse those who don’t respect others.” or “Why don’t you say that to me again, but say it louder so everyone in the café can hear how disrespectful and childish you are.”

            Don’t say it quietly. Say it loudly. Let others around you know that they are misbehaving like children. Real men (and women) are respectful.

            I would say that 80% of the time, they apologized to me, calling me their sister. I hope this helps!

          • Findy

            Ha, some of those responses are brilliant. I’ve never had to deal with any harassment of that type, but I’ll have to remember those.

          • Marocain du monde

            Hola this is what I’m talking about, a real “Lioness”; who ventures to harrass this one?

          • muslim and proud to be so

            there are tow main reasons for such a behaviour. first lack of religious education. harassment is prohibited in Islam and is considered a sin. the prophet MUHAMED PEACE BE UPON HIM give the way its right (i.e if you sit near the way). his companion said what is the way’s right. He said : lowering the gaze(don’t gaze at women), don’t harm others, greet those who greet you. promote virtue and prevent vice.

            if the world do with the prophet’s advice no woman would be harassed. Second, the harassers go unpunished that’s why they dare to harass women. If a man harasses a woman she could easily respond to him by saying do you like it for your mother or sister or daughter to harassed by others???

          • Aicha Susan Morgan

            yes thats very true what you said .those who don’t respect other,s should read Quran more.MUHAMMED PEACE BE UPON HIM ,don’t harm other’s insha ALLAH

          • Aicha Susan Morgan


          • Maggie

            If it’s a culture thing, then your culture disgusts me. Keep it up, domar. Pretty soon Morocco is going to be viewed just like Egypt and the rest of North Africa/the Middle East because for some reason, your part of the world hasn’t figured out that disrespecting women is repulsive. Yeah, you don’t consider it harassment because you probably have such little self confidence and game that you don’t know how to communicate with a woman without being nasty. Nasty men marry nasty ladies, so just remember this when you find your “future wife” by grabbing her ass on the street.

          • muslim and proud to be so

            you are yourself a victim of your society. a society where women are considered as sex machines. they are used to sell things. is this respecting women??? in our muslim society women are highly considered and respected. we don’t consider them as a tool to sell goods by showing their nakedness in the streets. your society are degraded under the animals society

          • Lea

            Muslims are bare faced hypocritical liars. The fact that the founder of your Islamic culture said things about women, and did things with regard to women, and these things are emulated by the men of islam is at the root of your problem with sex. This fact regarding muslim men is very evident when they come to western countries where they wage their unholy jihad on western women, and this all based on the culture of islam. Factual statistics are available: 5% Muslim Population in Sweden commit nearly 77.6% of all rape crimes. This proves that muslims are disgusting and their “pious” little routine of accusing westerners of showing nakedness as a crime when in fact they are the children of the perverted depraved psychopathic false prophet of Islam. Muslims treat women like dirt, in particular non muslim women.

          • Moroccan Woman

            You can’t be serious!!!!

          • muslim and proud to be so

            who told you that????? do you accept harassment for your sister or mother????

          • My Eye View

            “get used to it”…hahaha…you are part of the problem…

        • Marocain du monde

          Simply cos a “wolf” attacks an ewe but never a lioness, so choose whom you want to be!

        • Aicha Susan Morgan

          which part is this ,as i also been going to EL JADIDA for the last 5 years and found its ok there they are polite and understand we are not from there country but there help -full no problem there ? sidi bouzid different for tourists and they dress and act as if its not a muslin country do what they want.pubs..clubs its all there,i am muslin so maybe as i cover up thats why i don’t get problems ?

      • medinaqueen

        Actually I am an American living in Morocco….I dress modestly…and for YOUR information…American women who are Sluts are the ones who might enjoy that sort of behavior from men. The fact is there are many women in America who believe in chastity before and after marriage…who don’t follow things of the world, who don’t drink alcohol, who live like people do in Islam, as far as standards of morality are concerned..That is the type of life I live and have been married for more than 25 yrs…so don’t assume ALL American women live wild lives MANY DO NOT..

      • medinaqueen

        And since Allah HAS given freedom of choice, women who choose to dress immodestly have the freedom to do so in America…I don’t condone it, but it’s freedom of choice, and grateful that my home country allows women to have safety and will prosecute those who would harrass, abuse, or rape women. The men I’ve met in Rabat have been respectful to be honest….anytime anyone has expressed interest and I mention I’m married they back off, and there has been no further trouble…although someone offered to buy one of our daughters in Marrakech…but we’re not in need of camels…pretty sick that in 2013 girls can still be bought in Morocco, I am assuming–that’s the culture the MEN need to wake up to, and end! Girls are of great worth and need an education, and to have freedom to choose their path in life..they make better wives and mothers when they’re happy and not sold like livestock….Allah, whom I worship, does not approve of selling your daughters…wake up people.

        • Aicha Susan Morgan

          i dont know if some one wanted to buy your daughter? but that can happen in lots of countries .i don’t approve of it nor does ALLAH …but freedom there are getting more and more.if you say your married true they do leave you alone so to me it shows that it could be the holiday makers wanting a fling the men chasing around them but because they don’t understand there culture they get it wrong. iv never had too much trouble once on a beach young man would not go away …untill i said i would call for my husband he went like a flash.i am muslin and was coved be he could see i was English ,so thought money ect ?offered sex hmmm very bad

      • ana

        Blame it again on the Americans or the Western culture. Unfortunately, these persons that blame it on the other cultures have never had the opportunity of travelling in those cultures and actually see if women are harassed on the street. Nobody will harass a women on the Westerns streets the way they do it in Morocco. stop blaming the Moroccan’s lack of respect for women on other cultures! It comes from the interior of your society, not from outside!

        • muslim and proud to be so

          really?????????????? western women aren’t harassed hhhhhhh is it a joke??? western women are far more harassed they became goods advertised on TVs and in the streets. haven’t you heard about sexual crimes in america??? haven’t you heard about women rape in europe and america?

          • RKW

            Women get raped everywhere, but western men are desensitized to women’s skin, and they don’t have a “machismo” culture like Arabs and Latin men (probably also Italian men as well). I live in a big city in the States, and someone *might* say “hey pretty” to me three times per month. While in Marrakech or Rabat, I couldn’t walk for more than 10 minutes without someone saying something to me, or trying to touch me.

            I know it’s difficult to accept when your countrymen are doing something wrong, but if you learn to accept it, you can help them become good people by learning how to treat people with respect, and stop acting like animals in the street.

          • Aicha Susan Morgan

            no only the men looking for visa or a easy life get after westerns any none morocco.s just get on with your holiday and learn from it .i have never seen real bad treatment from any of them ,they are like any other country just trying it on

          • Lea

            Really, no they are just indoctrinated by the Koran and imams to consider women as sex objects and that non muslim are there for the raping, right hey?
            Immigrants account for only 6 percent of Italians, but for an impressive 40 percent of Italy’s rapes. 6.3 percent of the rapes in Italy are carried out by Moroccans. The numbers really pack up around urban areas.

            In Rome, immigrants are responsible for 52 percent of rapes. In Milan the number goes up to 59 percent. 8 percent of the rapes in Milan are carried out by Egyptians and 7 percent by Moroccans. In Bologna, 53 percent of the rapists were immigrants, of whom 11 percent were Moroccans.

          • Lea

            Immigrants account for only 6 percent of Italians, but for an impressive 40 percent of Italy’s rapes. 6.3 percent of the rapes in Italy are carried out by Moroccans. The numbers really pack up around urban areas.

            In Rome, immigrants are responsible for 52 percent of rapes. In Milan the number goes up to 59 percent. 8 percent of the rapes in Milan are carried out by Egyptians and 7 percent by Moroccans. In Bologna, 53 percent of the rapists were immigrants, of whom 11 percent were Moroccans.

        • lhou

          don’t lie on others and yourself, there are statistics in US that says in every 6 minutes or seconds there are at least a women that is abused usually by their fathers or brothers.

        • Aicha Susan Morgan

          yes i agree few bad marocains,don’t make all marocains bad just respect to each other.

        • Citizen

          The Western culture is not to blame. But we have to blame the “neo-Moroccan” culture which consists of desperately blindly following the Western culture not knowing how to copy it, let alone adapt it. PS: I’m not giving an opinion on Western culture. I’m saying that many are trying to copy and they totally have failed.

      • Expat2332

        You live in pure denial…

      • MichaelAMkch

        Take a reality check Zdo, do not use ‘the West’ as an excuse. You have been listening to too many misogynists. Western women that I have met here all experience the attention of Moroccan men as harassment and something they rarely encounter at home. I acknowledge that this a Mediterranean wide problem, both south and north. You need to take Islam out if the equation and look at your cultural attitudes to women and challenge them. What an enormous waste of the value and benefit of women by treating them this way.

        • Aicha Susan Morgan

          iv had no problems in morocco and i have been going to visit friends there for 5 years so welcoming ,the only one thing they do think westerners are all rich but we are the same rich and poor there’s good and bad every were

  • Lynne Diligent

    I’m glad articles like this are now being written in English, where they can be accessible to tourists and foreigners who are living in Morocco. I’ve lived here for twenty years, but it was only after I lived here for about five years that I discovered Moroccan women are harassed, too. Foreign women who are living or traveling here think that the Moroccan men only harass foreigners! Sadly, many of these men are not raised in families that would condone this behavior. I think many of them do it to impress the other male friends they are with in the cafe. This must be the reason why it’s not considered “good” for women to go to cafes–it’s better to stay away from these sorts of men, who in a way, are acting like a men’s “gang.” In order for this to change, I think the other men who are sitting in the cafe need verbally and loudly SHOW THEIR DISAPPROVAL of the men who harass women as they go by. If a man is walking on the street and sees one man harass or comment in a bad way to woman, HE NEEDS TO SAY SOMETHING to that guy! Only through the disapproval of other men will this culture change.

    • Lrais

      Hi Lynne, totally agree with you, but shouldn’t women start to voice their opinion first? I know this might spark outrage, but I have seen too many women walk away in silence while men are following them. I on the contrary start yelling at them, in the street, and let them know how I feel has a great impact: they are the ones walking away in silence now, with their shame following them. It works! Shame is powerful, especially in societies like morocco.

    • Marocain du monde

      HI Lynne; the issue isn’t related to cafe or anything of the like, It has to do with a lost generation, whose parents declared their withdrawal from the upbringing mission, a school which produces repression & lack of respect to the other, and more precisely the wave of Media & technology to which the Moroccan community wasn’t prepared
      Peace be upon you all

    • Claire

      I agree . When men start to speak up, women will have more freedom to speak up without fear of further harassment or intimidation

  • diwani

    it’s a wonderful article. you ,mess nidal , are dealing with one of the serious problems in our beloved country. i will not say that moroccans don’t molest women .no . a thousand times no. but how about those women who almost go naked?

  • Jo Jo Le Tiel

    My daughter lived in Casablanca a year ago on a Fulbright Fellowship. She was constantly harassed. One day, she witness a fully veiled woman in Ben M’sik, where she was a teacher, being followed by a man, and walked alongside her to offer some support. She learned some choice words in darija, which seemed to help. Harassment has nothing to do with a woman’s dress. I was there for several months, and the combination of mother and daughter seemed to ward off unwanted attention. On the other hand, I found men to be quite aggressive. We stayed at a small hotel in Marrakech, and the hotel manager pushed me against the wall and started to kiss me.
    I had stayed up later than my daughter and was talking with him in front of the computer in the office. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been so open and friendly. At the same time, my months there were wonderful. In spite of this problem, I have to say that I have traveled quite a bit, and Moroccans are remarable people – so interested and friendly to foreigners, and that’s not very typical in this world.

  • Ali

    The sexual harassment in Morocco, though as not severe as in countries like Egypt, is still a deeply ingrained social and cultural problem that is caused not because of women and the way they dress but because of these men’s sexist mentality. After women started to venture outside and became an important part of the work force, they had to face the contempt of some men and sexual harassment of others due to their pent up sexual repression and frustration and as a means of establishing or enforcing power dynamics . Again, it is not about how women dress but rather how men see them. I have seen women dress”modestly” yet they were harassed. If you talk to some people they will say that still it is the women’s fault and that if they had stayed in their homes they wouldn’t have been harassed. I have been to many parts of Morocco and I have noticed the decline of this behavior and how it is mainly concentrated in conservative and poor areas where women recently started to break free and venture outside. While in other more liberal areas this problem is almost nonexistent.

  • Amine Ennagadi

    Dear sister, I couldn’t stop laughing while reading the article, you succeeded in projecting and epitomizing the lamentable situation that many girls witness everyday in public places. I’m bemoaning the fact that sexual harassment will not stop, it is not the responsibility of men or women but it is a matter of socialization; attitudes are now affected by sex and immoral values instead of religious and moral values. We really need effective strategies to combat sexual harassment in our society as soon as possible.

  • Afraa El Khyat

    nice Article, then, with no insult meant, didn’t you take in consideration all of the good Moroccan men that served the country and preserved their honor with pride (including your father) ? wouldn’t it be, for the sake of solving or revealing a social prblematic issue, unfair to the good muslim men in Morocco. If weren’t Moroccan, i’d rather get scared of being so! So, let’s bare all the frames in mind and, at least, give a fair look to this country. Again, that was a wonderful topic from a wonderful writer. Hope to read more from you soon :)



  • Moroccan Woman

    The problem of sexual harassment in Morocco is a symptom of
    a deeper problem we have: That of misogyny coming from both our men and women.
    How many times do we blame women and how many times do we blame men in many
    life’s aspects: relationships, marriage, divorce and yes harassment? Men are
    usually removed from responsibility for their actions while women are supposed
    to be the ones to foresee a man’s reaction and plan to avoid it.

    We have a long way to go.

  • MO

    One thing i want to understand! Why do women are giving the important to find out the reason behind the harassment coming out from men and forgetting the real subject of prostitution that made Morocco’s reputation very badly worldwide????

  • btca

    we will blame government for not having laws to protect our people

  • marghan

    dear Nidal Chebbak , as I see it , women are the main reason in this issue , the point here is not about ” the decent clothes” it is really about the way they walk , talk and act .
    acually , mass media is the first responsible by showing a woman half-dressed . dramatising the fictitious stories on Tv teaching us how to flirt any woman effectively !!

  • Fahriddin

    Assalamu aleikum dear brothers and sisters. In my humble opinion, I believe that we can blame only ourselves in this social issue. I trust this disease in our hearts is coming from lack of education, morals, and ultimately practicing the Islam.

  • El houcine

    I totally agree with your point. Women as well as children suffer. This reflects Moroccan’s cultural and social awareness.

  • Sara keen

    The muslims need to return their religion. Parents need to raise their children to have strong belief as well as good manners and morals which includes proper Islamic etiquette when speaking and dealing with opposite sex such as lowing gaze, refraining from laughing and unnecessary talk. I see to much of these things in the streets of morocco. Yes, of course many men have bad attitudes but women invite harrassment with their behavior. Yes, it is ultimately women’s behavior and dress that leads a man to thinking they are available and cheap. Women should never think that following western culture and ways will get them respect, or popularity or a marriage proposal. The good girls will and always will be respected at the end of the day even if that comes late. Also a girl should always think about the type of man she wants to attract. Men should also know how repulsive they are when they harrass girls.

  • Angela

    I have been enjoying the insightful and dynamic replies here to this topic – in an ideal Morocco of all the loveliness and the beauty that Ive been coming here for the past 10 years its sad to read of the difficulties that Moroccan women have with the men in their country. I have met very lovely men here who have been utmostly respectful, kind and trustingly platonic in their relationship. I know the group that are in a touristy area who shame the rest of Morocco with their freedoms to use naiive and also culturally unaware or irresponsible women who take part – but my opinion is that in Morocco and inherent in Islam that boys do not learn boundaries or discipline to respect women – even as equals because they are instilled with some idea that they are kings and that their every desire and want must be permitted to freely come forth. then as men they are in the habit of taking and demanding advantage. It is the men that have an inherent conscientiousness in their personality or have learnt it from their more aware families that continue through their lives as upholders of human decency within the family and society framework. these are disciplines pointed out clearly in the Injeel that are what God intended for one another to take on in order for families and societies to operate with love and respect for one another.

    • Marocain du monde

      Nope my dear, Sexual Harrasment has nothing to do with Islam, rather it’s due to the lack of faith. As a true Muslim I can’t harrass a girl or a woman, cos I consider all of them my sisters; this is the right term Islam calls us to label other women, just go back through the Article & read what Allah tells us Muslims … How to behave with women …. The Moroccan youth’s morals are collapsing because of western paradigms that are taking place in the area

      • RKWeiner

        True. I am not Muslim, but while I lived in Morocco, I experienced the LEAST amount of sexual harassment in the more religious/conservative areas, where people were respectful.

  • Vicky Beraou

    I can completely relate, and sympathise with Moroccan women, and had no idea that it was an issue even when wearing the hijab or niqab

    Im English and have been to Morocco many times, as i have family there.

    Im affraid to say that i have been harassed many times by Moroccan men when i am going about my day and minding my own business. I was never inappropriately dressed, however i put it down to their ignorance of the Moroccan men thinking European women ‘liked that kind of attention’


    It got so bad that my husband would escort me everywhere in Morocco, or i would always have a guide to make sure that i was safe.

    Its such a shame, Morocco is a beautiful country,

    Muslim or not, men should not behave this way towards women.

    • lhou

      youy are right, but i have heard from an ex-teacher that there is a kind of harassement that is acceptable, but i did’nt ask her what it is.

    • Aicha Susan Morgan

      agree with you so much ….they think English are all rich .morocco very beautiful but need lots more education sorry to say.i was told by my friends there to be care full they steel your bags .its unsafe really for female’s to be alone out there,so just be very care full i say like you would in any other strange country .yes muslin (islam) says wrong to disrespect any one they need to be told to leave woman alone

  • Rahioui Said

    First, I would like to thank you for your
    insightful topic. Sexual harassment is a crucial issue, which is worth
    discussion. I read your article twice to get it gist and its meaning in order
    to have a clear and thorough understanding and give an evident comment. I have
    two observations. The first is that you text is approached from an angle which
    is veil with a hasty generalization. To put it differently, you tried to give one
    single model, your friend with “niqab” to come up with a conclusion that even
    veiled girls (women) are harassed. From an academic perspective, your proof is
    not reliable, as it will never give us an obvious idea about the issue being
    discussed. My second observation, is that came up with a Quranic verse, which
    orders all Muslim men not to gaze at women… That quite good, but since you came
    up with the sacred verse you should have come up simultaneously with another
    proof ordering women to wear decent clothes. As we, all know that the holy
    Quran came with verses to men and women. So why didn’t you mention this verse: And tell the
    believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their
    adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their
    bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers
    or husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers
    or their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, or their women, or their slaves, or
    male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women’s
    nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of
    their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye
    may succeed. Surah Annour (31)or this one O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy
    daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them
    (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognized and
    not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. Alahzab (59). I would like to tell you that
    you article is not FAIR and not based on any scientific research. You are a Ph.D.
    student, it’s a shame to write such irrelevant article. We are academic researchers,
    which means that we have to conduct meaningful and significant studies,
    articles and so forth based on proofs, statistics….

    If you say that indecent clothes are not the reason behind sexual harassment,
    then you have to prove it by carrying out an investigation not by giving us a
    single model. I swear that if women or girls do wear Islamic clothes that we
    will not have sexual harassment as we do have it nowadays. Men are weak, why
    don t you help them???? How do you want
    to convince us with such article?!!! Voice your thoughts, but enrich them with scientific
    evidence. Rahioui Said, MA holder in Applied Linguistics University Moulay
    Ismail, Meknes.

    • RKW

      Well-written response! I do have to point out two flaws though:
      (1) I am American. While living in Zagora for two years, I was not harassed often. I think this is due to the kind and conservative nature of the people there. They have been taught not to treat people disrespectfully. I was ALWAYS harassed in large cities.

      Maybe you think this is because people in large cities are more westernized? You would be wrong, because…

      (2) I am almost NEVER harassed here in Washington, DC – even less than I was in Zagora. This shows that it is NOT westernization that causes this behavior.

      (3) Lastly, you are not an animal. You are a person. Men aren’t allowed to use the “men are weak” argument, because you’re saying that men cannot overcome their animal instincts. You mentioned the verse about women’s behavior, but youforgot to list this Quranic verse about men:

      24:30: “Tell the believing men that they should reduce/lower (?????) their gaze/vision and guard their private parts”

      Men need to follow the Quran as much as they expect women to do so. In my life, western men “lower their gaze and guard their private parts” much more than the men in Marrakech and Rabat. Western men are NOT more civilized than those men who feel the need to prove their masculinity through harassment, but there is definitely less of a need on their part to harass women in the street.

      • Lea

        I agree with everything until you said western men are not more civilised than, shall we call it what it is, muslim men. Indeed, the civilised person uses his intellect to make pro-life choices which undergirds western civilisation and it is not based on race, it is based on the use of the intellect. Now every decent man should know and understand that women are not the property of a man. Should she walk butt naked in front of him, he has not right to touch her or degrade her in any way. And for muslims to hide behind the excuse that the Koran says they must dress modestly so as to avoid harm, and then when a women does not do this, to consider it a license of some sort to molest and harass the woman, is just plain savage, barbaric and backward in modern times. The crux here is with the men, the men of islam, think they have this right to impose a dress code on women, and then abuse them when they don’t. This robs the woman from her God given right to free will choices, and puts them into dangerous situations where they are even murdered because they obey not the Koran. This is downright diabolical. There is supposed be this verse, which is mostly used out of context, that says: There is no compulsion in religion yet this is squarely not applied. The problem here is Islam, and we see it the world over, wherever there are muslims.

    • Lea

      If you want statistics then go to this site:

      According to a study by the Foreign Nepali Workers Rescue Center (FNWRC), about 90 per cent of all Nepali migrant women are victims of sexual violence and exploitation. The worst cases are in Arab countries where female migrant workers are routinely raped, beaten and not paid. For this reason, the Nepali government limited emigration to the Middle East between 1998 and 2010.

      Still, every year, 83,000 Nepal migrant women leave the country in search for work. Most go to the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where job opportunities are better.

      Arab states are destination of most illegal workers. Out of 67,000 in the Middle East in 2006, only 3,000 had the right papers and a valid contract.[17]

      September 2011

  • Oussama Melouani

    I couldn’t agree more .. the fact that every single girl in this country already been exposed to Sexual harassment is very shameful to every man, we’re supposed to be a modern country (if we considered other Arab countries), that forbid such things ,unfortunately , we only encourage it by not engaging in such subject under the Excuse of “taboos” .. on the other hand .. women should reject such kind of abuse , not seeking for it (as some of theme do) ..i think we should add another question , which is “what should man & women do to cut this Phenomenon from our society?”

    • Lea

      Not seeking for it, really, does it ever occur to you that even if a woman walks passed you naked that you do not have the right to even touch her since she is not your property. You may look, you may even get aroused but you have absolutely no right to touch her, or harass her, or degrade her, or insult her, or act out on your own uncontrolled lust and misconceptions that have been inbred in Islam for centuries now.

      • Oussama Melouani

        You’re really after me are you ? haha , just kidding !
        even You Lea have to admit that there is some , not much , only some women actually go out to seek sexual harassment , as they bring theme more self confidence take it as a prove that they are beautiful , these are not my own words ,some of the girls I know actually do that , one of theme even said , and I quot : “It gives me a boost on a rainy day” .. letterly !
        I , myself , have never harassed a women , for any reason , she can walk naked , dressed , I don’t care , there is no use to it !
        most of men do it , because they think they’ll get to the girls pants , if it didn’t work , SOMETIMES , they won’t try !
        The uncontrolled lust and misconceptions is there because the damn religious can’t understand what really the whole sexual limitation in Islam is there , its there simply to guide , not to control , they take it the other way around , and again , religion take the blame , not the twisted ones !!!

        • Oussama Melouani

          The 3rd comment is the one you should consider ,I had a problem in my connection !

          • Lea

            I have never ever heard of such a terrible, and very mistaken remark such as you just made, and it is this type of mindset that is at the root of the sexual harassment and violence against women. ” some of them seek sexual harassment”
            I truly hope you don’t have daughters. You speak like a misogynist, which typifies MOST muslim men, in particular arab men, and of course Africans just fall in line to their muslim slave masters from Arabia paving the way to hell for them with the bodies and souls of brutalised women. Men are just as vain as women are, and also like to be admired, should they be raped for that, as I know this happens in the muslim world at such high rates it is incredible that they can even pull off the idea that they are anti gay, since the majority of muslim boys are raped by adult men before they even reach puberty. It seems the greatest sin in islam is the failure to hide your sin adequately so as not to bring Islam into disrepute.

          • Oussama Melouani

            I’m not a sex discriminator , so don’t imply that .
            I’m just mentioning the way the world works , not for me , nor for you , but for the whole world , of course when women seek for it , it’s not sexual harassment , it’s a self-confidence quest (if it makes you feel better) .. no matter what you call it , both terms in there basic definition means : a man says a remark about a women , that may or may not insult her !
            of course , I’m talking here about the average man who says something like : you look cute today , or , nice body … ect. not the type of men that say , B***ch , or Hey H**e , or How much for the night? …ect.
            you may not like it , but it is what it is !
            some women do seek the first type that I mentioned , and of course , NON OF THE WOMEN WILL EVER SEEK the second type .
            I suppose you’re a women Lea , and just like our first talk (that I guess is still in progress) , you don’t take a neutral position , try to separate the fact that you’re a women , with the fact that women are harassed , and you’ll see what I’m talking about !

          • Oussama Melouani

            How the hell is a Muslim scholar raping a girl is remotely related to this …. I can talk with you in everything you want , just make a little bit of sense !!!!

          • Oussama Melouani

            do you know the deference between Sexual harassment , and sexual assault ….!!!!!???

      • Oussama Melouani

        You’re really after me , are you ? haha , just kidding !
        obviously , you’re mad because I said “women should reject such kind of abuse , not seeking for it (as some of theme do)” , and I stand by that , many women , NOT ALL WOMEN , AND NOT MOST OF THEME , do seek sexual harassment , it make theme feel better about themselves and give theme more self-confidence that other men admire there beauty and acknowledge it , those are not my words , those are words of some of the “females” I know personally , one of theme even said , and I quot : “It really boost me up in a rainy day” .. Letterly , I don’t agree , but ..!
        and for the uncontrolled lust and misconceptions , again , the overall Muslims don’t even understand what sexual limitations means , and they definitely don’t understand that they’re there not for controlling , but simply for guiding , of course , men in general are controlling beings , so they’ll turn any rule into a controlling one , and women in the Arab world can’t say what they really want or understand , so it’s kinda of a dilemma .. and I’ll say it again , it’s the individuals fault , not the religion , the culture is the one who’s messed up , NOT THE RELIGION !

      • Oussama Melouani

        I keep replying , but the plug-in keep deleting my comment !!!!!!!!

        • Lea

          Probably, because you are speaking to me like a decent human being, and admitting the faults of Islam to a certain extent. Saying you are a moderate muslim, could get you into some trouble, so be careful around other muslims, you never know what they may do to you and your loved ones, since it is hard to tell you are the nice ones and the mean ones.

  • Ahmed

    This is curable if we go back to Islam. Islam forbids man from gazing at strange women and women from gazing at strange men. in Al-noor surah Almighty Allah Says (Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is aware of what they do.) verse 30 ???? ??????????????? ????????? ???? ???????????? ????????????
    ??????????? ?????? ??????? ?????? ????? ??????? ??????? ?????

    and verse 31 Almighty Allah says (And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to
    display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw
    their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save
    to their own husbands or fathers or husbands’ fathers, or their sons or
    their husbands’ sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or
    sisters’ sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who
    lack vigour, or children who know naught of women’s nakedness. And let
    them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their
    adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye
    may succeed.) ?????? ?????????????? ?????????? ???? ????????????? ????????????
    ???????????? ????? ????????? ???????????? ?????? ??? ?????? ???????
    ?????????????? ????????????? ????? ???????????? ????? ?????????
    ???????????? ?????? ???????????????? ???? ???????????? ???? ???????
    ?????????????? ???? ?????????????? ???? ????????? ?????????????? ????
    ????????????? ???? ????? ????????????? ???? ????? ????????????? ????
    ???????????? ???? ??? ???????? ????????????? ???? ???????????? ??????
    ??????? ??????????? ???? ?????????? ???? ????????? ????????? ????
    ?????????? ????? ???????? ?????????? ????? ?????????? ???????????????
    ?????????? ??? ????????? ???? ???????????? ????????? ????? ???????
    ???????? ??????? ?????????????? ??????????? ???????????

    THE PROPHET MOHAMED peace be upon him said : ?? ??? ? ?? ?? ???? ?? ????? ???? ?? ?????? ??? ????? ?????? ?????? ????? ?? ?????? ????? ?? ?????? . in english O Ali you have a treasure in heaven and a reign don’t follow the gaze after the gaze( at women) you aren’t blamed for the first gaze but not for the second. This Hadith means that men shouldn’t gaze continuously strange women( women that that men can marry)

    indeed if we educate ourselves and the youth on this religious basis we won’t have sexual harassment in our streets and society.

  • mohammed

    Thank you very much, I want to say that every person will be held accountable as far as its contribution to this scourge, then dont worry as long as you not contribute to the issue, because I simply not responsible for the behavior of others

  • cellojim

    Man, woman, adult, child: everyone has the right to walk down the street without being bothered by strangers. Faux guides, boys with certain things on their minds, judgmental moralists, you need to keep your thoughts and words to yourselves. It is never proper to address a stranger on the street rudely or indecently. This can happen anywhere, not just in Morocco.

  • Zubair Khan

    The article seems containing exaggerations. In an attempt to make it bit
    tasty the writer has added certain artificial things. One has to first
    really define
    harassment. Then one should see the causes for it and thereafter
    remedial measures. Merely gazing by men to women not at all harassment.
    I can bet the women also gaze men but we men never termed it as
    harassment. Harassment is something where one is constantly gazing some
    one as well with gestures posing interest in opposite gender without
    the consent of counterpart. In case opposite gender also showing
    interest in gazing and other activities it is not harassment. Main
    cause is objectionable dress which speaks of personality of a lady. In
    such dress lady has stepped out her house with the intention of being
    noticed by the opposite gender. So it is also not the harassment.
    Either in Hi jab or without Hi jab if lady on street is exposing her
    attractive parts men are aught to gaze her. But here who is at fault?
    The lady who ignored the Islamic teachings and roaming in streets
    wearing objectionable dress with the intention of attracting opposite
    gender. In my view if ladies start wearing moderate and loose dresses
    and stop exposing their beauties while coming out and start ignoring the
    opposite gender this feeling of harassment will die down automatically.

    • Lea

      Your suppositions have already been proven false. It is a fact that the error here is with men having a sense of entitlement to the women robbing her of her freedom, dignity and autonomy. Men are the ones who should not seek justifications for their uncontrolled sexual lust, for even if a women walks past you naked it does not give you a single minutia of a right to even touch her. You may look at the spectacle, it may even arouse you, but you do not have the right to act out your lust because the woman is not your property.

  • Rachida Tachalhit

    The first one to blame are the rulers together with the rules of Morocco! once a wsoman is raped, she’s forced to marry her rapist, this can happen only in Morocco! is like adding Gas to Fire! to camouflage what??? sexual harassement is very apparent in Moroccan streets because Men are Men; not sure what this phrase mean any longer! the second to blame is Moroccan Men who think they are God’s gift in Morocco, and they get away with murder just because they are Men! a husband can rape his wife too. Men’s mentality needs changing but that needs decades if not centuries. Ok a minority of educated one are exempt!
    Governments, institutions and other organisations need to educate people. We suppose to be an Islamic state, which means rape, sexual harassement, hitting women amongst other things should not be allowed in our society!

  • Amine Maksi

    ok … when you see a Lamborghini what do you normally do or say to the owner ? ” wow nice car man” the same goes to women ….. its not about the clothes ,,,, well it is but its a combination of looks , and clothes . when a girl passes by you wearing a bikini and her face is messed up like she was hit with an airplane . “you wouldnt dare to say something sexually ” but if a girl passses you by wearing dirty clothes or shity outfits with a clean beautiful skin … what the hell would you say right away ? exactly my friend the author . so for you women out there that wanna avoid getting sexually harassed. go along with the boy’s compliments , make him fall for you USE YOUR HEAD !! if not then stay at your GOD DAMN CRIB !!! thank you

  • RN

    Fabulous article, Nidal, thank you! I’m an Arab-American living in Morocco and this is an issue that circulates through my mind everyday, seeps into every conversation, and sometimes has power over me. Keep writing and voicing your thoughts, people are listening.

  • Zahrin

    Hamdulillah I have read a very important article today. Thank you for writing and publishing these kinds of issues. We should really voice out against these kinds of behaviour and not just walk away in silence. I know it is intimidating but we have got to start somewhere, Maybe girls should organize a sort of resource site and also create buddy system when going out. These Stoned Men!!! Shame on them all. And for those who sits idly just condoning what they are witnessing…woo to you too. :/

  • Reuben H

    Isn’t such harassment a problem in EVERY Muslim country? Ladies, if you want civilized behavior, move to a Christian country. Oh wait… there are no Christian countries any more. So I invite you to convert to Judaism and be my wife, but you’d better hurry up; I’ll take only four of you.

  • haas

    There is no body to blame but ourselves. If we are true Muslims then we should leave sexual harassment buried underground. There is no place for sexual harassment in an Islamic civilized country such as Morocco.

  • Charef Benlatreche

    Maschallah de la part de ”

  • Adam Colorado

    The problem is that Moroccan men lack morals and values and they have lazy and barbarian mentality or I would say it is the mentality of the Arab men in general. They look at women like a piece of meat except those who are practicing Muslims or those that have respect for women. And most women would not dare to speak up when men harass them to avoid any physical abuse. And the only way to stop these barbarian behaviors the authorities MUST get involved. I lived in the U.S. for many years and I currently live in Europe and I have not seen any man harassing women in the street. We are Muslims we should be the best in manners.

  • bon jovi

    What a rubbish, pro western article!
    Simply Illogical and nonsense!!!!

  • Citizen

    Finally an intelligent article and not some post-modernist neo-lebarist non sense. Why do you think Morocco has such problems? Yes, as many have pointed out it’s a problem of lost generation/identity problem/etc. However, why is that? Simply because we have thrown our traditions in the garbage and have spat on it. If something works fine and is beneficial in the West, it doesn’t mean that it will offer the same results elsewhere. Every culture has its particularities (which change with time) and therefore each culture has “a” system which will fit that culture. We cannot blindly follow another system and we cannot apply it “as is” without any adaptations to our particular time/context/environment/etc. Last but not least, let us not have a finger in many pies (“chasser deux lièvres à la fois”) by chasing both (or more) cultures at once. By chasing other culture/s, Morocco has sadly only kept the negative aspects from its previous culture and the negative aspects of the (Western) culture it chases after so lusciously. PS: I am NOT anti-West. As I said, each culture has negative and positive aspects (no one is perfect). However, even positive aspects of a culture won’t necessarily be positive for another culture (especially if not adapted).

  • RationalFearOfTerror

    Cause cultural foundation codex (textual and exemplar).

  • chaimae

    this is so danger case. in our muslims world. we find that most of men looking at girl in unethical way,i’m agree with that idea which is said that many women are wear a short cloth but in my experinse even girls who wear a long cloth and so ethical the men never let them alone.for my oponion i think that there’s no exicise to men who talk or look at women and girls in this bad way,the man should keep his eyes on floord and women should wear a long cloth

  • Lea

    It is a statistical fact that muslim women, clothed from toe to head, cannot walk further than 200 metres without being harassed in muslim countries, surely you can understand that this situation has evolved from the Islamic teachings of the prophet of Arabia, whose sexual life was exceptionally robust, to say the least, and because muslims emulate him today as the most perfect man to ever have walked on earth, they do the same things as him, to the point that they enact laws that allow for child marriage, necrophilia and domestic abuse, there is no recourse for the women because there is no one to help her, she cannot go to the security apparatus because they are muslims too. I mean muslims are stoning raped women to death, what kind. Islam is a 7th century cult that is destroying the very fabric of civilisation today. Why not just reject Islam as a form of governance and embrace true democratic freedoms, and seek a secular society, where religion is separated from the state. This is the only thing that is going to change things for women in Islamic countries.

  • lolasam

    I lived in Morocco for more than 20 years where I witnessed the harassment of women. I have never opposed it but found it beneath me. That feeling, as a man, was not because I was better than my friends but mostly because of one single experience: My friends and I were hanging out at the souk entrance just killing time, while harassing every girl that walked by. I didn’t say a word to any of the 20+ girls that were victims of my friends’ harsh and sometimes complementary words. Except one time, I had to say something because all of my friends were too quiet; I thought to myself, they must be intimidated because she is too hot. So, I did it… I flatly told her, theatrically, about my sexual fantasies…(I don’t recall the details, but it was very descriptive nevertheless) I was very proud of myself thinking that I’m now part of the pack, especially when the hot chick smiled timidly as she walked away. I looked at my friends looking for endorsement, only to be told that the girl was Aziz’s sister. It was wrong for me to insult my friend’s sister like that. BUT WAIT… Aziz has said much worse things to every girl that walked by. Why would his sister by immune from a “gentler” harassment?

    Well, it was just that! Every girlWomen is someone’s sister, mother, or aunt. My “proudest” moment of harassing a woman was not good enough because the victim was related to a friend. That single experience has taught me a lifelong lesson.

    As to the sexual harassment, I think that men’s sexual frustration combined with men sense of domination provide men a sense of entitlement to harass women on the street. This is a cultural issue that can be easily be addressed by wide education campaign followed by stiff legislation.

    For other commentators, this issue has nothing to do with Race or Religion. Just walk the street of Harlem or East LA, and you will find yourself harassed by boys, sometimes, violently.

  • Krishna Zane Lopez

    There is nothing more important than being safe. Right now sex offenders are everywhere and we can never predict what will happen to us. We should always take certain actions to for this to happen and not just relying on other people to do it. For me, I found a safety application on android phone that helps me track sex offenders on my phone, and just a click on a panic button and it could automatically create a conference call to a 24/7 call center, a safety network and could escalate a call to a nearest 911 if it’s a real emergency, check this site out for more information:

  • lolasam

    I think Lynne hit on a good point. Many times, friends and bodies support and endorse the harassment and even encourage it. As I stated on a previous comment, the solution ought to be:
    – National awareness Campaign.
    – Criminal legislation
    – And to Lynne’s point, speaking out against it.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

© 2011 - 2015, Morocco World News

Follow by Email
Scroll to top