How I Deal with Harassment from Moroccan Men

How I Deal with Harassment from Moroccan Men

How I Deal with Harassment from Moroccan Men

Before I left for Morocco, one of the common pieces of advice I got was, “be careful.” Clearly, going to Morocco is not like going to London or Copenhagen especially in terms of living there as a young American woman. And let’s face it, in a country where the average hair color is brown or black and the average height is about 5’ 6’’, it’s not possible for me to stick out more than I already do as a 5’ 9’’ young woman with long blonde hair.

Now most people who have never been to Morocco usually associate the country with one of two things, the film Casablanca and the red hat known as a fez. They may also know that it’s a Muslim country in North Africa, near Egypt and Libya. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised that I received so many warnings to “be careful” from friends and family alike. However in Morocco, like in any country, there are moments when you feel comfortable and moments when you don’t feel comfortable.

Recently I went to Tangier as part of my study abroad program. Tangier had a long history of being a seedy sort of place, with the reputation of being a city where guides lead unsuspecting foreigners in circles through the city and then demand large sums of cash. Thankfully, those days are pretty much over, and Tangier is in the midst of several development projects. While in Tangier, however, I experienced a very uncomfortable moment, which sometimes happens during one’s travels.

In Morocco, like in any country, there are moments when you feel comfortable and moments when you don’t feel comfortable.

A group of friends and I were down by the ocean, looking for a restaurant for dinner. There was a group of about seven of us and we went into a restaurant that had been recommended by a guide book. The waiter led us to a table in the middle of the restaurant, which was right in front of a semi-circle table of Moroccan men. From the moment we sat down, this group of men leered at us, whistling and making kissing noises.

I immediately felt uncomfortable, as did the rest of my friends, so we left. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence in Morocco. Sometimes groups of Moroccan men will stare at women and verbally harass them–especially foreign women.

Although this can be an upsetting experience for a woman, it is important that you know how to deal with instances like this. The best tactic is to ignore it, and if it makes you that uncomfortable, you should remove yourself from the situation. Listen to your gut. If your instincts are telling you to find another restaurant, to cross the street, or to avoid certain areas of the country, then do it.

Yes, it is upsetting and at times infuriating that these things happen, but it is important to keep in mind that instances like this happen in America as well, just in different forms that we are more culturally desensitized to. In the US, for example, women are objectified and viewed as sexual objects in pop culture and media.

Listen to your gut. If your instincts are telling you to find another restaurant, to cross the street, or to avoid certain areas of the country, then do it.

Although it has been a challenge to live in a country with different cultural norms from my own, Morocco still continues to be an adventure and I haven’t let experiences such as the one in Tangier ruin my time here. Overall the people are incredibly friendly and welcoming. Besides, no one ever said adventures were easy.  The point is to experience something different!

How I Deal with Harassment from Moroccan Men

Related Reading

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From Gunpoint to Marriage Proposal: Travel in Morocco
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Up Close and Personal at a Moroccan Hammam
A Mélange of Cultures in Morocco
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Additional Reading

Dispelling Myths about Morocco
Moroccan Culture: Where Time is Not of the Essence
10 Ways My Everyday Life in Morocco is Different than in the US
6 Tips for Surviving the Transportation in Morocco: Taking Rabat’s Tram at Rush Hour
Camels, Homestays, and Feasts: Four Days in Morocco
Ramadan in Morocco: Golden Hour in the Gilded Age
Living in Morocco: 5 Months of Bargaining, Exploring, and Smiling

Have you traveled to Morocco? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

We hope our tips for women travelers in Morocco have been helpful. Have a wonderful journey!

About Virginia Cady

Virginia CadyVirginia Cady studies international studies and Middle Eastern studies at Dickinson College. She is currently studying abroad in Rabat, Morocco.

3 thoughts on “How I Deal with Harassment from Moroccan Men

  1. Avatar
    March 19, 2014
    Reply

    Wow – this sounds rough! Have you been to Egypt?

  2. Avatar

    I had the same experience in Marrakech and Casablanca. Men just yell things at you as you walk down the street! The best practice was definitely as you suggested – ignore. One time it got really bad and a man was following me. I asked a guy working in the medina to help me and he shooed him away, thankfully.

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