Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Morocco: Men Do, Women Yoyou

If there is a real Moroccan feminist movement in Morocco, then it is high time to look how it is obscured and made invisible by men jumping into the middle of it to practice their lagging-behind politics. Women trigger their issues, men take over to ‘solve’ them. This is the story of the Moroccan feminist movement, which seems to come to a conclusion that men do while women yoyou.

I take it that nothing else can perfectly be matched to the description of an oxymoron than the juxtaposing of the feminist movement with a bunch of men. Morocco is a Muslim state by the constitutional definition of the country. Within this contextual formulation of the identity of the country by means of law, Morocco has never adopted what is certainly deemed to be a Western concept of women’s liberation. Not that Moroccan women are lacking the willingness to liberate themselves, but it is rather the issue of being politically silenced and spoken for. The first voices of women in the public sphere were made possible by the liberal views of key political male actors such as prominent nationalist thinkers, the monarch, and political parties according to Professor Fatima Sadiqi. This proves that women’s movement is entirely tied up to the men elite’s involvement in the process of women’s rights. As a result, we cannot definitely separate women’s rights from the monarchy and its political, social and cultural influence as an important element of ideology and nation building of the country.

Drawing on the symbolism of certain historical events in Morocco, patriarchy again was proved to be powerful within the Alaouite’s palace, but so was the powerful message that the monarchy was able to deliver through the symbolic gesture of unveiling the princess Aicha, by the King Mohammed V. That was an event that not only mobilized the liberation of women through the individual empowerment of women to have the courage to seek life outside the domestic sphere, but also brought together the religious constitution to agree to the emancipation of women and absorb the fact that women are active agents in building the nation. However, should have the feminist waited till the green light had been given form the Monarchy and male politicians?

The monarchy remains man’s property with a man over its crown. Its symbolism is reflected on the way the Moroccan family is patriarchally constructed. Even though the current princess Lalla Salma is actively involved in women’s issues, her main concerns till now have not exceeded beyond medical and health issues. Lalla Salma has been advocating breast cancer campaigns since she founded a cancer prevention association in Morocco in which she personally spearheads its council as well as being involved with HIV/AIDS prevention in Africa. The political as well as the legal issues concerning women’s rights have not touched her agenda. This is mainly due to the unclear political compass of her activities which seem to be less influential than of her husband’s, King Mohammed VI.

The Moroccan feminist movement is deeply engaged in building its struggle and ideologies upon the social conflict surrounding the Moroccan family law or what is called the ‘Mudawana’. This latter constitutes the locus of the legal and civil discrimination against women. The Mudawana should be about women, for women and by women, yet, with its sluggish evolution of its laws, it has never been the property of women, where they are positioned to craft its laws even symbolically. Where are the feminist movements in this male culture of dominating the legal and political space?

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