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fake husbands & fake wedding rings

16 February, 2011

Last summer, while doing my research in preparation for moving to Morocco, I came across a number of sites talking about sexual harassment and how to avoid it or deal with it.  Many of these sites mention wearing a fake wedding ring or inventing a fake husband, fake children, etc., back home and going so far as to carry photos of them.

I am married, and The Husband is most definitely real.  He is even living with me here in Morocco.

I wear a ring on my ring finger.

And yet, I am harassed on a daily basis.  The same occurs to other females here on Fulbrights, serving with the Peace Corps, and just passing through while they travel.

When women in my program complain about the harassment here, we are simply told that it is normal and that it is part of the local culture.  We are told not to go outside after dark.  We are told to dress more appropriately.  And we can put these suggestions into practice, even though they won’t really do anything.

I feel I do dress appropriately for Morocco, and appropriately for my site which is more conservative than other parts of the country.  Last week, I walked up to the souk to pick up a few last-minute items for dinner, and I happened to be wearing my djellaba and hijab (so in other words, it was next to impossible for me to be any more covered).  The harassment I experienced that night was some of the fiercest verbal harassment I have received thus far in site.

Today, while The Husband and I were walking to our favorite café to get some coffee, two guys made an inappropriate comment to me.  If having my actual husband standing 18” from me does not deter sexual harassment, I really don’t see how wearing a fake ring or telling stories of your fake husband will calm down the local men.

Having my husband around and covering up as much as possible does not dissuade those determined to harass females.

This topic has been on my mind a lot lately.  After observing local women, and talking with my female friends here, it seems like the only way to deal with the constant harassment is to develop as thick of skin as possible, ignore the comments, and keep as safe as possible by not putting yourself into potentially dangerous situations.  Often times, this means not going out alone after dark, and avoiding going to isolated places by yourself.

 

10 Comments leave one →
  1. The Husband permalink
    17 February, 2011 16:42

    Its unfortunate that this kind of behavior is ignored or encouraged by so many, almost as if its acceptable. I don’t care if it is “part of the culture” sexual harassment is not okay.

  2. The Mother permalink
    17 February, 2011 16:59

    I think the Mother will be bringing you a 150 pound German Shepard.

  3. Baiba Sedriks permalink
    19 February, 2011 12:31

    I don’t want to grow such a thick skin that I hide my true inner beauty. I can keep on walking and deflect the verbal harassment easily by keeping a hold of my inner peace. But, what am I supposed to do when the man follows you? I’ve resorted to raising my voice so loudly I find myself changing for the worse. I tried the fake fiancee but that only induced the comment, “If it doesn’t work out…”. Djellabas, hijabs, rings, lies, protectors, open airy streets filled w/ others, nothing will protect us until something internal, cultural, fundamental changes….

  4. Mina permalink
    20 February, 2011 15:40

    Really i don’t know what are you talking about. what you are saying is “propaganda” i lived there 20 years. i never met anything like that then please don’t talk just for talk. be honest with yourself first.

    • 20 February, 2011 19:26

      My whole purpose in maintaining this blog is to give my friends and family back home a chance to learn about my life here in Morocco.

      I don’t feel like this entry is propaganda; I am merely writing about my day-to-day life living here.

      I have found the majority of folks here to be very friendly and wonderful people. Unfortunately, a small percentage of men here (and in other places too – Morocco is definitely not the only place where women are harassed) choose to make life uncomfortable for women, and some days, I get really tired of it.

      I’m not sure what your situation was in living here (if you were born here, came here as an adult, etc.), but I’m happy that your experience was without harassment.

    • The Husband permalink
      20 February, 2011 19:37

      Hi Mina. I’d also be interested in learning more about your background–and how it is that you are so unaware of such a prevalent nuisance in Moroccan culture. To corroborate my wife’s statement: it is not uncommon–at all–for young men to do the equivalent of cat-calling while I am at her side. And from what we have heard from other female Fulbrighters in Morocco, their experiences are even more pronounced.

  5. Mina permalink
    20 February, 2011 16:04

    if you don’t feel save why you don’t move

    • 20 February, 2011 21:47

      One day, we will move.

      For now though, I am here to do my job. And while being harassed is annoying, it does not necessarily make me feel unsafe, nor does it affect my ability to do my job.

      I have been lucky in that most of my harassment has not been hands-on, and I’d like to keep it that way. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for some of my female friends here, and that is why I bring up our conversation about the things we can do to keep ourselves safe(r).

  6. Khadija permalink
    21 February, 2011 16:18

    I am one of your blog readers since I saw an article in the ECC newsletter, also happens to be a moroccan from Casablanca.
    It was interesting for me to read about another point of view of what you see there, and the sexual harassment is one of my nightmares when I still lived there and go there to see family, but I think that the fact that you look so “unmoroccan” even with the djellaba and scarf is something that encourages some inconsiderate people to harass. here /i am not defending anyone, just trying to explain. but I am really sorry that we have in Morocco such a bad behavior that I can not be generalized over all my the moroccan guys.. Leaving in the US and not being noticed and harassed even when I always wear a scarf made me hope that this behavior – I will not say cultural behavior because our culture in here deepest level is very respectful- will change .
    I hope you enjoy your stay in Errachidia with The Husband and the cats..

    • 24 February, 2011 11:01

      Hi Khadija,

      Thank you for your comment! Its exciting to know that I have readers who are in my home state of Illinois but who have also lived in my adopted home of Morocco!

      And thank you for making a good point that I definitely do look “unmoroccan” and that may be why some choose to harass me. Most days its okay and I hardly get bothered at all, but that’s not the case every day. Its good to hear that you’re not experiencing the same thing in the US.

      Thanks for your well wishes!

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