Tetouan - I still remember the days when if we wanted to express our love to a girl we used to write letters on paper torn out of our school notebooks and sent them to the girl’s best friend.
Tetouan – I still remember the days when if we wanted to express our love to a girl we used to write letters on paper torn out of our school notebooks and sent them to the girl’s best friend.
We used to buy a lovers’ letters book, copy a letter and then send it to the girl, having only changed the name to whom it was addressed. Back then, communication with girls was very difficult for a young man especially in the more conservative cities, such as in the Rif and in the south of Morocco, where if you spoke to a girl you would face a lot of insults using verbal and non-verbal communication.
In those days, just speaking to a girl or accompanying her on the way to school was considered a privilege. Of course holding the girl’s hand or kissing her was a dream that was sometimes impossible to realize. Girls were only allowed to go to school and come back to their homes or their boarding house. Strict family and social rules were applied. Communicating with the other sex was very difficult as some of them were not able to read handwritten letters because they were supervised or escorted by someone from their families, either a sister or an aunt or a friend. Sometimes [this?? sending a love letter?] ended either with marriage or serious problems if a family member of the girl figured out the story.
With the emergence of the internet, things dramatically changed. Many Moroccans began using cyber cafés because having a personal computer and an internet cable was very expensive and hard to get. They started chatting on Mirc and Caramail. However, it was not possible for girls to hang around in cyber cafés unless they were students using the facility for educational purposes.
Then there was Facebook and the rise of the smart phone, along with applications such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber and many more that can be downloaded for mobile phones in Morocco and elsewhere in the world. In Morocco the majority of people have them for many purposes. When people are asked the reason for having all of these Apps, the answer is often the same. Most users say they need them to keep in touch with friends, and make new friends.
In the past, when two people met they usually asked about their physical addresses, but now they ask about their email address and Apps. Now we meet new people on social media and through mobile apps. In this context, societal rules and parental control on communication between boys and girls have largely disappeared. Girls and boys have the total freedom to communicate with whomever they want and from any country. The phenomenon of Facebook has pushed even illiterate politicians to have their personal profiles or pages to attract more followers potential and voters.
Cheap smart phones and reasonably priced internet subscription have made it possible for everyone to have friends in the virtual world. Here in Morocco girls and women now can meet boys and men without the need for caution.
Before the era of cell phones and the internet, women in Morocco were merely silent bystanders with little voice especially in the public dialogue. Now, however, they have a greater opportunity to express themselves in a wide range of social matters. But the ability to communicate on social media and mobile phones unfettered by societal constraints has also meant thatsome, especially perhaps women from poor socio-economic strata, are communicating via Skype and Tango and sometimes showing their naked bodies in front of the cameras for money. This has led some Moroccan hackers to record Russian naked girls and persuade men from the Gulf states to disrobe also and share their Facebook profiles for purposes of extorting huge sums of money or his video will be posted to Facebook and emailed to his family members. Dubai police recently launched an investigation to find out who is responsible.
Edited by Elisabeth Myers
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