By Manal Wahbi
By Manal Wahbi
A recent study revealed that more than 30,000 Moroccan children are homeless in what is seen as a growing phenomenon which places a lot of pressure on both the government and society.
In a study entitled “The phenomenon of street children in Morocco,” sociologist Chakib Jasous said that more than 1,000 children are homeless in Casablanca alone, 5 percent of which are illegitimate children of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa.
Those children, the study added, do not only suffer because of poverty and low standards of living, but are also frequently subjected to abuse, especially sexual.
Aisha, a 14-year-old girl who sells tissue packs in one of Casablanca’s main streets, said she became homeless after a teenage neighbor of hers had raped her.
“I preferred to run away than to face the situation and tell my father,” she told Al Arabiya. “My mom is dead and my stepmother is very cruel so there is no one to protect me.”
For Abdullah, a 12-year-old shoe-polisher, living in the street is much better than bearing witness to the daily squabbles between his mom and dad.
“I couldn’t take it anymore, especially that their fights are always concluded with beating me up and even kicking me out, so I ran away,” he told Al Arabiya.
Street jobs, the study explained, are the most popular among homeless children especially in the summer where they can sell small goods and offer services to cars and pedestrians. At that time of the year, Jasous said, they usually sleep in the street, while in winter they go to deserted buildings to escape the cold.
According to sociology researcher Karima Wadghiri, Jasous’ study is a positive step towards solving the problem of street children in Morocco, but he said that the lack of accurate statistics and sufficient information is the main obstacle.
“We do not know the exact number of street children and their living conditions are much worse than what is known to us,” she told Al Arabiya.
Wadghiri explained that family problems and lack of proper education are the two main factors that contribute to the remarkable rise in the number of street children.
“There is also no clear strategy to combat the roots of the phenomenon,” she added.
In addition to solving the causes of the problem, she explained, there should be initiatives that aim at providing a better life for children who have already been made homeless.
“They need to be integrated into the society through enrolling them in care centers that support illegitimate children and return victims of domestic violence to their families making them join rehabilitation programs and talking to their families.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid). Source: Alarabiya