What does life as a woman or girl look like in your country / city / town / village? Any issues / challenges / exciting milestones? I live in Morocco and though Moroccans do love to claim that the life of a woman here isn't as bad as in few other places, that doesn't make it any good.
I live somewhere where girls and boys are separated from birth. The boys are presented with toys that supposedly represent masculinity such as guns and big trucks at young ages, while us girls are presented with kitchen utensils and washing machines as if we weren't any good for anything other than housework. As we grow a little older, the boys are told to go do "boy things" such as play soccer in the streets while the girls are held captive inside forced to learn how to cook and wash the dishes as if we weren't children that needed to play too.
School begins and with it begin the lessons of how us girls should dress appropriately so as not to disturb the boys around us. I think it is very apparent at this point that the Moroccan society fears us and fears our bodies even more. I was only 10 when the sexual harassment experiences began, starting from boys my age to men 30 years older. At this point, I have more stories of how I was inappropriately approached or touched by men I didn't want anything to do with, than stories of when I had actual fun.
At 12, my school principal told me that my shorts were a disturbance to my male teachers who were all at least 40 years of age and that I should never wear them again. At 14, a grown man followed me home and tried to push my house door open. That is the true experience of a Moroccan girl yet my stories aren't even as bad as it gets. Must I speak of the girls that were raped and forced to marry their rapists? Must I speak of the girls that were raped, murdered and decapitated? Must I speak of the women who are abused and beaten by their husbands? Must I speak of the women that are raped by their husbands but forced to believe that it is okay just because they are their husbands? Must I speak of the young girls that are forced to marry men 4 times their ages by their parents? Must I speak of the young maids that are regularly beaten by their bosses and forced to give their hard earned money to parents that don't care about them? Must I speak of the young girls that are kidnapped and raped on their way to school?
If i were to tell the story of Moroccan women, the full raw story, it would take me years and years just to finish talking about the horrors we are faced with every single day, from men who want to control us to brainwashed women who push us down even further when we try to stand up.
I live somewhere where women aren't paid as much as men, nor given the same rights of heritage as men, nor given the same opportunities as men, but the worst part of it all is that none of this is acknowledged. It is taboo and "haram" to speak of, we are forced to live under the word "hchouma" (meaning taboo in our dialect) our whole lives, we are forced to cover up the discrimination and oppression we experience so as not to face the cruelty of our society but what can you expect from a country that blames the victims for the acts of the criminals?
What would you like the world to know about YOU? What life experience, challenge or achievement do you want to share? I am 17, a high school student for whom life hasn't even begun, some would even say a child. It is a little scary to see someone as young as me sharing such horrible things, I know that very well, I also know that if I weren't to share these things probably no one else would. So, that is what I want the world to know, that I am brave enough to speak of the unspoken.
What are you most passionate about and what are you doing with that passion? I am passionate about a better country for all the girls that are born today but most of all, a better world for us all. What I do with passion is singing, I have been singing for as long as I remember. I love how calm I am when I do it yet I have no dreams of making it a profession whatsoever.
How have the women and girls around you helped you to get to where you are today? The most influential women in my life are my mother and sister. My mother whom I'm very proud of is a successful woman, not only that but also an activist. Growing up around her gave me the knowledge and spirit necessary to stand up for what I believe in. She educated me on subjects I had no idea about; politics, human rights, history... I will forever be thankful to her for shaping me into the woman I am today.
As for my sister, whom I'm very proud of as well, her passion and dedication in following her dreams prove to me every single day that whatever I want to achieve is possible if I put a little effort into it. She is strong, possibly stronger than I am, but I owe all of my strength to her because she showed me how to build it. She showed me that just because I live somewhere where most people are conditioned to have smaller hopes and dreams doesn't mean I have to be.
I owe who I am today to the strong female figures who raised me, my mom and sister.
Describe yourself in one word: "I am... Dedicated
Complete this sentence: "To be a girl or woman today, is to be..." A fighter.