By Ikram Abdelhamid Benzouine
By Ikram Abdelhamid Benzouine
Morocco World News
Rabat, January 24, 2013
The Moroccan Kingdom is presumably one of the elite Arabic-speaking African countries which take grave aim at effectuating a finer situation in favor of children’s rights.
As a matter of fact, the Moroccan government has latterly taken relentless action in all child-oriented concerns. However, seeing the circumscribed facilities and supplies of the country, the objectives of the Moroccan child’s rights are hardly met. On this point, the Moroccan child is still faced up with manifold problems, notably child labor on the top of which is the issue of child housemaids.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that more girls under 16 work in domestic service around the world than in any other category of child labor. Irrespective of the long-standing pressure from civil society, there are thousands of child maids in Morocco.
No local figures have officially been announced, but one Moroccan non-governmental organization called Bayti, has estimated 23,000 in the district of Casablanca alone. Bayti’s director, L-Hamil Amina, says that most of child maids originate from the countryside, where people have little or no income and lots of nippers. “The parents,” she adds, “think they’re doing something nice for their daughter, that they’re saving her from the tough conditions in the countryside where there is no electricity and so on. The parents think that at least their daughter will be fed in the city.”
Taking into account Ms L-Hamil’s testimony, it is crystal clear that poor parents are not fully aware of the reality of child maids and their exploitation. Such a phenomenon can also be attributed to further grounds. The focal motive is poverty. Many of these children, mainly girls, drop out of school and refuge to the maid-suit in order to ensure the survival of their family.
Another reason is the [public] schooling “tragedy” in Morocco. Many country girls cannot go to school due to the long distance that impedes their mobility, not to mention some teachers’ excessive absenteeism and lack of learning and teaching materials which force these children to seek refuge in the wealthy’s house.
What is worth noting is that Human Rights Watch has acclaimed Morocco’s efforts to extend legal protection against abuse and address the underlying causes. Nonetheless, the HRW said the kingdom’s efforts “do not constitute the integrated strategy for combating the worst forms of child labor that Morocco needs”. Dr Abderrahim Sabir, an expert in child labor with Human Rights Watch, says that the government appears in no hurry to address the child maid issue. He claims it assigns priority to political subject matters instead.
The government has repeatedly voiced its determination to fight the exploitation of child maids. Yasmina Baddou, former minister of Family and Social Affairs, said the government sought to regulate the work of housemaids, insisting that no girl under the age of 15 should be employed as a domestic servant. “People accept that girls work at home and this makes the exploitation acceptable by the society,” she one told Reuters. “We want to make national opinion more sensitive about the danger of child labor,” she added.
According to the Labor Rights Report issued by the International Bureau of Labor Affairs, the Moroccan government “is taking steps to address the country’s child labor problem.” However, the small number of labor inspectors, limited investigative equipment, limited awareness of the child labor issue as a whole, make the government’s application remedies doomed to failure.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed