A majority of Bab Sebta's 'mule women' come from the Rif region and central Morocco.
Rabat – Minister of Solidarity, Social Development, Equality and the Family Jamila El Moussali submitted a report to the Moroccan House of Representative on the conditions at the Bab Sebta border crossing that separates Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.
The parliamentary report is based on field visits to Bab Sebta between July and October 2018.
The Constitutional Union, a liberal-conservative political party in Morocco, commissioned the study that analyzes the situation of neglected women and children at the crossing point.
Jamila El Moussali relayed the findings of the report and outlined recommendations.
The report states that as many as 3,500 women of different age groups are involved in smuggling goods across the border. They are known as ‘mule women.’
Most of them are widows, divorced, or prisoners’ wives, according to the study. A majority of them come from the Rif region and central Morocco.
The investigation found that the carriers sometimes spend up to three nights waiting to cross in an open space where they face abuse, harassment, theft, and illness. Researchers also argue in the report that mafias often exploit the plight of the women and families involved in smuggling between Morocco and Ceuta.
The report condemned the closure of the only medical unit at the crossing point.
The report recommends setting up a free trade zone in Fnideq, a town near the Ceuta enclave, to combat smuggling in the area. The report also suggests a socio-economic study on the social conditions, education levels, and labor market access of ‘mule women.’
In addition, El Moussali called for vocational training to promote the empowerment of these women.
“The phenomenon of smuggling goods is eminently complex since it takes on dimensions that are economic, social and cultural at the same time,” the minister stated.