A young Moroccan house maid, whose dramatic suicide attempt has revived concerns about violence towards women and child workers in Morocco, said on Tuesday that her family rejected her after she was raped.
The 19-year-old women, who leapt from the fourth floor of an apartment building in Casablanca where she worked, had been employed as a domestic worker since the age of 14, said Omar Kindi, president of the NGO Insaf.
She was saved by a young man, who caught her as she fell and was killed in doing so, with the incident filmed by a neighbour and posted on the Internet.
“In 2010, she was raped in Marrakesh, prompting a dramatic change in her already sad life,” said Kindi, who visited her in hospital and whose NGO supports women and children in distress.
“Her parents refused to receive her, and then sent her from one employer to another. Wounded and in despair, she tried to kill herself by slashing her wrists,” Kindi added.
“This dramatic affair highlights the problem of child domestic workers and its inhumane consequences,” he added.
Human Rights Watch said in November that Moroccan children as young as eight were being recruited as house maids, and that they were frequently beaten, verbally abused and sometimes refused adequate food by their employers.
In another case that sparked outrage in Morocco last March and prompted calls for legal reforms to protect rape victims in the conservative Muslim kingdom, Amina Filali, 16, killed herself after she was forced to marry her rapist.
An article in Morocco’s penal code allows a rapist to wed his victim and escape prosecution, and Filali’s father said his wife had insisted on the union as a way of saving the family’s honour.
“The cases of Amina Filali and of this poor young girl who threw herself from the balcony have got a lot of media attention. But there are many female victims of violence that remain unknown,” said Amina Tafinout, a women’s rights activist.
“The government has still not managed to put in place a law that forbids the employment of domestic child workers, despite promises to do so for the last five years. They are victims of all types of violence.”