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Morocco continues fight against early marriages

Today is an international women’s day, which is celebrated as a festival worldwide. In Tamarwoute, Southwestern Morocco, it is not celebration time. Women’s right activist Najat Ikhich are still busy working on women’s rights. 

Women activist ‘Najat Ikhich’ is an activist and the head of the YTTO rights group. A YTTO is an association that has been working for more than ten years to combat underage marriage. Ikhich main target is to hit the village of Tamadghouste in south-western Morocco to raise awareness and promote greater autonomy for the women living in the marginalized areas. 

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 She prepares the annual convoy her association organizes through Morocco’s remote communities. It will take off this summer. “She stated that this village allows us to put together a list of towns and districts that we feel like marginalized and need to work on that village, then we came back and made a second visit during that time we gave them a name of coordinators in these regions and agreed on the final round for the convoy. 

She further stated that it had been more than ten years that YTTO volunteers drove through the winding roads of rural Morocco. When they made a tour around the village, they found the same obstacles: unstable livelihoods and long-held traditions, which can make their message inaudible. The country’s 2004 family code puts the legal age of marriage at 18, but it includes a clause allowing judges to give families special dispensation.

As per the official figures, judges approved some 13,000 waivers in 2020 alone — more than half of the total applications.

Women’s Sufferings:

In the Souss Massa region, nearly 44 percent of women are still uneducated. A lack of education restricts skills development and leaves marriage as the only token of stability. “Villages faced many issues like poverty, marginalization, a lack of infrastructure, the fact that young girls do not go school, said Ikhich. 

In towns and cities, it is affected by several conservative ideas originating from marginalized areas of places like Casablanca, Rabat, Fez, Marrakech, etc., when they say that the correct place for girls is with their husband.”

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Nadia was just 16 when she was married to a violent husband, and he was old as her father– an ordeal thousands of Moroccan girls face every year due to legal loopholes. “I faced hell, and that nightmare is behind me now, she said. 

From a remote part of the North African kingdom’s Anti-Atlas mountains, Nadia managed to win a divorce after a year of marriage.

Furthermore, she stated that I am just 20 years old and living back with her parents in her village of Tamarwoute, and added that my dream is to become independent, and I want this dream carried by every woman. 

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