Sunday, July 12, 2009

Home girls : Female Servants in Morocco

Here is an article from (US Military news source) about young girls working as house servants in Morocco. It is a heartbreaking phenomenon, but forgive me for not latching on to the idea that the government wants to eradicate underage labor in order to bring about universal education for Moroccan children. Just look at the state of Moroccan public schools. Ya Latif!

Underage female housemaids raise concerns in Morocco


By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat – 09/07/09

The employment of girls as housemaids is still a worrisome problem in Morocco, despite numerous public awareness campaigns. Four NGOs joined forces on Saturday (July 4th) in Rabat to begin work on eradicating a phenomenon they consider a type of slavery.

The East-West Foundation, the INSAF (National Institute for Solidarity with Women in Distress), Amnesty International and the Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH) agree that work done by girls is a form of slavery, as it involves trade in human beings. They held their first forum with governmental representatives to set up a legal framework to criminalise the employment of girls as housemaids.

"New legislation is now proving more necessary than ever, and must be backed by mechanisms for implementation that clearly set out the responsibilities of those involved," said East-West Foundation chief Yasmina Filali.

Participants in the meeting agreed that the employment of young girls less than fifteen years of age must be severely punished.

The forum also recommended that failing to declare the employment of a young girl should be a criminal offence. Intermediary networks and employers must be prosecuted, and a structure should be set up to care for victims and provide them with psychological support and education.

The collective is aware that legislation alone is not enough, and must be backed by an effective public awareness strategy. This would involve starting a public debate about the issue to stir consciences, inform public opinion, and involve the press both nationally and internationally.

"Everyone's efforts must be pooled to put an end to this scourge that is ravaging Morocco,” said Filali.

The East-West Foundation has been working with INSAF for over three years in the Chichaoua area, original home to many of the endangered girls. INSAF and the East-West Foundation have been raising the awareness of parents and of children in schools about the full extent of the problem.

INSAF Director Nabila Tber said that her organisation, with its educational reintegration programme, has been seeking to change mindsets among parents who believe that they benefit from sending their daughters to work.

The organisation also hopes to create a relationship of trust between schools and families.

The ministry for social development, families, and solidarity has encouraged this kind of initiative, as it goes along government action. Minister Nouzha Skelli has set a target of eradicating the problem of young maids by 2010. This, she said, depends on all partners working together.

A draft bill aimed at putting an end to child labour is currently being studied by the government's general secretariat.

If child labour is not eradicated, stated the ministry, it will not be possible to achieve universal school education.

"The government and charities must consider strict legislation if they are to manage to change mindsets among a great many Moroccans, who do not see the employment of girls under fifteen years of age as a crime against humanity," said sociologist Naïma Mourabiti.

"We've had plenty of public awareness campaigns. What's needed is for those who employ young girls to realise that their actions are a crime punishable by law."

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