The views, opinions, and observations expressed in this journal are my own and in no way reflect the views, opinions, or policy of the Peace Corps, Peace Corps Morocco, nor any other governmental or non-governmental organization.

Nor is anything written here necessarily drawn from my own views, opinions, and observations. Please consider all postings and pictures complete fabrications with absolutely no bearing on reality. For legal purposes, please additionally regard the author as utterly imaginary.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A new blog

For any semi-regular readers: some friends (back stateside) and I have recently started a new blog. Here are the first two pieces I wrote for it

Philippe Petit and Man on Wire, a spirited review

Self and Time: Am I Who I Was Who I Will Be?

Friday, January 24, 2014

figuig pictures, and Morocco in the news, and a brief look back

first off, here's some pictures from figuig!-- to see them better, click on one and it will let you scroll through them.

Thankfully, the law that encourages rapists to marry their victims has been amended. While the ruling was a definite victory, it was a small one. You can read why in the following NYT article:


Morocco actually ended up on the front page of the paper (front electronic page, that is) for two days in a row. Today an article appeared about a small Berber village that is protesting a silver mine, which has used up and/or polluted most of their water supplies. The Amazigh (the free people) simply walked up tot the top of the hill and turned off the mine's water pump, where they have continued to stage a protest for the last couple of years. Naturally, the mine is owned by the King of Morocco. You can read the piece here:


In other news, last weekend I went to Rabat. Among other things, I ran a couple of training sessions for fresh-from-the-promised-land peace corps volunteers. One hundred and four Americans arrived maybe two days before I was up in front of a group of them talking about how to start clubs at the youth center. I was the first current Morocco volunteer they'd met, so I got a lot of questions. For the first session, after a couple minutes of failed attempts at getting it started, I just sat down and fielded questions.

They are at the stage where I was about 22 months ago. A number of things have become totally normal to me, but seemed to frighten them. Generally speaking, those things had to do with toilets, showers, and intestinal problems. And some work stuff too.

But what was really incredible is that I basically couldn't put myself back in their place. I couldn't really remember what it was like. I don't know how I was feeling in those first couple of days. So it's a good thing I've been doing this blog.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Change is Good

The Moroccan government is currently considering amending a law. This law essentially states that if a rapist marries the rape victim, then they are no longer a rapist. I'm not sure exactly why this is the case. I gather that there is no law prohibiting rape if the two parties are married. But I don't know whether this rule becomes retroactive. Underage marriage is legal with parental consent. What this means is that many parents (read: probably the fathers), once they realize their daughter have become victim of rape, push for marriage as a way for them to save face.

A number of girls, most recently a 16-year old, have committed suicide following their forced marriage to their rapists. This has drawn media attention and scorn from abroad (Europe, not other Arab countries). So maybe the Justice Department will amend the law.

This is just one example of a legal system that systematically turns its back on the rights and safety of women. I would estimate that the majority of female peace corps volunteers here are physically, sexually harassed at some point during their service. Morocco, along with every other Arab country, is consistently rated as among the worst countries on Earth to be a woman.

All of this is sickening, but what's really crazy is that the current situation is actually a dramatic improvement over years past. I just finished a book by a Moroccan woman who grew up in Fez during World War two. She lived in a harem and much of the story is about her growing understanding, as a child, that she lived in a cage. Women were not allowed to leave the home except on special occasions. One of her prison-mates, who lived with her, had been captured as a slave and sold in Fez in the 1930s. At the time, it was the Moroccan nationalists who were pushing for a more modern role for women. The people who were struggling against the French occupation were, at the same time, encouraging girls to go to school for the first time where they would learn, among other things, French. Very Strange.

Morocco has come far in a short period of time, but it has not come far enough. I wish I were allowed to join the protests in Rabat in front of the Parliament as the new law is considered, but as a pcv, I am forbidden from doing so. As I become more aware of the legal and social injustices in this country, I find myself wishing the peace corps had a role as a political organization. But it doesn't.


The views, opinions, and observations expressed in this journal are my own and in no way reflect the views, opinions, or policy of the Peace Corps, Peace Corps Morocco, governmental or non-governmental organizations.

Nor is anything written here necessarily my own views, opinions, or observations. Please consider all pictures and texts here to be complete fabrications with absolutely no bearing on reality, this one or any other. For legal purposes, please additionally consider the author to be utterly imaginary.