When I asked if they felt that women are treated equally to men, they said no. “Women do all of the work and get no recognition.”
By Erin Geneva
Rabat – Working as an intern with an association called the Voice of the Amazigh Woman, I had the opportunity to visit a few villages in the south of Morocco, including the village of Timoulay. While in the village, I spoke with the women of the Timoulay community with the help of a girl who translated for me from Tamazight (Berber language) to English.
“Women have no value here,” one of the women told me. As I continued the interviews, it became more and more clear to me that the women of Timoulay are very unhappy with their situation.
“Women do all of the work and get no recognition,” one woman lamented, explaining that the women of Timoulay do not experience equal treatment compared to their male counterparts.
My translator told me that many of the men from Timoulay work abroad in France. The men, she went on, come home only once or twice a year and send money to the male relatives of their family, not to their wives. The women are then left with the children and have to find a way to provide for them.
The women of Timoulay explained to me that many women in the village resort to handiwork to bring in some extra money. Often though, their husbands will sell their wares and take the money for themselves, meaning that the women still do not receive recompense for their hard work.
Our conversation turned to another serious issue the women of Timoulay face every day: Domestic violence. This part of the interview shocked me particularly, with all of the women in the room responding to my question on gender-based violence by nodding in unison.
The young girl translating for me highlighted that there was a major problem with domestic violence in the village and that most of the women did not have anywhere to turn to seek justice. She said that if a woman’s situation deteriorates, she will often go home to her parent’s house for a while for safety, but she always ends up going back to her husband.
The women told me that wives usually hide the problem of domestic violence because they do not want to make the situation with their husbands worse and fear the stigma of being divorced.
Women fear divorce mostly because it is generally the husband who initiates it. My translator added that “they throw them just like garbage.”
The women told me that there is a huge stigma attached to being divorced, and, although some women do remarry, it is almost impossible if a woman already has children as new husbands do not often wish to take on another man’s children.
It became clear that the women’s daily workload was much more than that of the village’s men. The women said that they get up at four in the morning, say the dawn prayers, and then make soup for breakfast.
After this, they go into the forest to gather food for their sheep. Next, they will prepare lunch. Then there may be some time to socialize or help prepare for the next wedding. They then go home to prepare dinner and take care of their children, say the evening prayer and go to bed, so they will be ready for the next day. Women are also responsible for planting and harvesting.
The women told me that boys in the village are always allowed to finish school, but most girls are not. Often their parents make them leave school at fourteen or fifteen, to help out at home. Even though the law stipulates that the minimum age for marriage is eighteen, many of these girls will be married at sixteen or seventeen. Some even at the age of fifteen.
Leaving the village, I felt a sense of deep sadness for the young women of the village. Most of these girls will not even have much choice about who they will marry. My translator told me before I left that the most common cause of divorce is conflict between a wife and her in-laws.
It is better for the marriage to be arranged by the families of the potential spouses, so that way the husband’s family will accept their son’s new wife and family. If a husband chooses a wife of his own, then there may be many problems in the marriage caused by the refusal of the husband’s family to accept his choice of wife. She said that because of this, it is rare for husbands and wives to choose each other, and marriages are usually arranged.
The young girls of Timoulay do not have much hope for an easier life than their mothers.
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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