From the Editors
The New York Times says Jadaliyya "Brings New Life to Arab Studies." Read about it by clicking here.
Last year, Moroccan civil society was highly mobilized around the case of Amina Filali—the young Moroccan girl who committed suicide after having been forced to marry her rapist. Ten months later, article 475—the article that absolves a rapist of his crimes if he marries his victim—remains in place, despite the fact that calls for its removal were a central part of the mobilizations. Today, the tragic story of another Moroccan girl—who in 2010 was raped by a stranger during her commute to Marrakech—is now dominating headlines. Forced into domestic labor at the age of fourteen, a field of work Human Rights Watch rightly labeled “Lonely Servitude,” Nasma Naqash’s work required her to travel from house to house, including occasional trips to her family’s hometown. However, upon returning home and telling her family of the brutal attack she endured, she was shunned and rejected from her household.
Due to the depression from the attack and the rejection of her family, she began cutting herself, which left her unable to continue working at households. Despite that, her parents coerced her into returning to work. When she felt that no other option remained, she jumped from the rooftop of her apartment building in an attempted suicide. While the building concierge tried to pull her in from the edge of the rooftop to prevent her from jumping, she jumped and a man caught her fall and saved her on the ground—an act that resulted in his death. She remains hospitalized.
Nasma’s tragic story is prefaced with a history of family-related issues, stemming from her parents barring her from going to school and forcing her into domestic labor instead. Throughout the course of her testimony, she alludes back to the relationship with her family as the tipping point for her attempted suicide. Her only wish, as she lay bruised and hospitalized, is to “never see her family again.” Various NGOs and members of civil society continue to mobilize in her support.
Interviewer (I): When were you born?
Nasma Naqash (NN): 1994
I: What month?
NN: I do not know.
I: How long did you go to school?
NN: I did not go to school.
I: You never went to school? Why?
NN: They would not let me.
I: You never went to school, fiqh, or anything?
NN: No, nothing.
I: What area do you live in?
NN: Tisilt, near Taoulat.
I: Your siblings went to school?
I: Where did they go to school?
NN: At a school near us.
I: So why did you not go to school if your siblings did?
NN: That is what I do not understand. I feel like I am just a girl that they have adopted. That is what I feel in my heart. I started working between 2007 and 2008. I started working at a very young age in homes. Once I started working, I stayed working. In 2010, something happened to me, after which I stayed working in Meknes at a woman’s home. Her name was Zhor. I continued working at her home and on Eid al-Fitr, I left to go visit back home. She took me to the train station, and when I arrived and headed towards the taxis, I went with someone who said they were going to Marrakech. I went with him and he brutalized me. After he brutalized me, my family did not want me anymore, they just wanted money. Whenever I went to see them, they would yell at me and it was clear they did not want me. It was a bad situation that hurt me in my heart. The way they treated me hurt me in my heart. Even my siblings did not want me.
When my family brought up the incident that occurred to me, I went and started cutting my veins. They were frustrating me and I was getting angry. I mean, they did so many things to me and I just did not want to hear those things. When I cut my veins, they just wrapped my arm up with a scarf. Since they just wrapped it up and did not stitch the cuts up, my arm was bleeding for almost five days. They did not do anything. When my cuts healed, they took me back to houses to continue working. I was told to begin working at a house in Rabat, but I refused and told them I am not working anywhere. I told them I want to stay at home. They said, “No, you are not staying at home. You are going to work. Fatima works for herself. For her and Nadia.”
I: Your sisters?
NN: Yes. They do not take money from them. I am the only one they treat like this. They even wanted to legally disown me. They are the ones who brought up the matter and said they no longer wanted me. They only wanted money, even though I told them I do not want to work in homes anymore. And every time I was at home, they would bring up the incident that occurred.
I started thinking about suicide because death was my only option. I had no other option.
I: And who tried to save you that day?
NN: The concierge at the apartment.
I: From the window?
NN: No, not from the window. In the rooftop, they have an area where people can dry clothes, and they have it covered to protect the area from the rain so the clothes do not get wet. He wanted to grab me but I pushed him off of me.
I: How did you go about deciding to do this?
NN: I thought about doing it because I felt like I no longer had any options. For two days I was in a coma until I found myself here at the doctor. I felt a hit here [points to forehead]. That is the only thing I remember. But when I woke up, they told me someone tried to catch me and that he died trying to catch me.
I: And the people whose house you were working at? How did they treat you?
NN: They were nice. My parents were the ones who were bad. The problem I have is with my family, not with others. Other people were taking care of me, I have no problem with them.
I: Did you see your mother after this happened to you?
NN: They told her I tried to commit suicide because I was being sent from house to house. She came to visit me and talked to me, but I kicked her out. They lied and told people that the concierge of the apartment got me pregnant. It is all lies.
I: And did your father come see you?
NN: No, he did not. I worked at one lady named Zhor, another named Asma, another named Zineb, one named Eman, and another named Maryam. I ask to not go home and to never see my family again.
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