Overblog Suivre ce blog
Editer l'article Administration Créer mon blog
21 juin 2009 7 21 /06 /juin /2009 21:37

SOME SEXUAL ISSUES AND PROBLEMS

IN MOROCCO[1] (I)

 

                                                                                                   Prof. Dr. Abdessamad Dialmy

                                                                                         University Mohamed V Rabat 

 

Feminine premarital sexuality, single mothers, sexual work, infertility, erectile dysfunction and sexual-spatial dysfunction are some issues and problems that theoretically transform the sexuality in a public health question due to the size and to the social and economic repercussions of these phenomena. Both the medical and the social dimensions of these phenomena illustrate the obvious impact of sexuality on socioeconomic development. Nevertheless, feminine premarital sexuality, single mothers, sexual work are not targeted by the public health policy which is exclusively focused on birth control. This policy orientation is illustrated by the existence of National Program of Family Planning.

 

1- Premarital Feminine Sexuality   

 

Moroccan social traditions make of the girl's precocious marriage a main element in the sexual and procreative strategy inspired by a patriarchal reading of Islam.

 

1-2 Woman's middle age at the first marriage

 

According to the patriarchal Islamic paradigm, the precocious marriage has several advantages. It is a mouth of less to feed and a way to avoid the risk of the premarital defloration, that is to say the risk of dishonor. The rate of single woman is lower than the one of single men; the masculine celibacy is, in fact more tolerated socially. Less than 1% of women remain bachelors at the end of their reproductive life[2].    

Figure 1: Matrimonial statute according to the sex 

 

Statute

 

Sex

 

Bachelor

Married

Widowed

Divorced

Indeterminate

 

Men

 

44,1

54,2

1,0

0,6

0,1

Women

 

39,0

53,8

5,5

1,6

0,0

 

 

Nevertheless, urbanization and schooling, though still incomplete, are gradually undermining the patriarchal paradigm of precocious marriage. Indeed, a tendency towards delayed marriages has been illustrated by the different socio-demographic investigations since years 1960. According to the last National Investigation on the Health of the Mother and the child (ENSME, PAPchild 1999), the percentage of women that got married before reaching 26 years fell besides currently of 863 for one thousand among women aged of 25-29 years. In the same way, this proportion fell further among the married women at the age of 20 years, of 638 for one thousand among cohorts of women currently aged of 45-49 years to 273 for one thousand among those of the cohort of 20-24 year women. The decrease of marriage among teenagers is faster and more outstanding. The investigation has revealed that marriage age varies according to different generations of women : Marriage at the age of 18 concerns 45% of women between 45 and 49,19% among those who are between  25-29, and only 16% for those aged between 20 and 24 years. The rate of those who got married early than15 is only 8,4%. 

The recession of marriage is confirmed by the female average age at the first marriage:  

 

Figure 2: Evolution of the female middle age at the first marriage

 

Year

 

1960

1987

1994

1997

Average Age

17,3

23,4

25,8

26,4

 

During 1996-97, the average age of the urban woman at the first marriage is 27,8 years (against 24,7 years in rural areas). Between 1994 and 1997, the rate of bachelor women increased: Out of 10 women reaching approximately 30 years, 4 are single. They prefer celibacy to polygamy. This latter is, indeed, decreasing. The proportion of women living in polygamous unions regressed from 5,1% in 1992 to 3,6% in 1996-97. Polygamy is particularly decreasing among at the educated women.  

One of the main consequences of the rise of the female average age at the first marriage is the emergence of premarital sexuality. The social status of this sexuality is, however, problematic.  

 

1-3 Between Dismissal and Acceptance

 

Legally, sex is prohibited for boys and girls before marriage. Yet, traditional standards are much unfavorable to girls. Girls are more submitted to familial and social coercion in the strict connection between sexuality and marriage. The usually, the family’s males lead this coercion. Furthermore, these males manhood is evaluated according to the extent of their control over sex prohibition and coercion on "their " women[3].

The sexually unsteady girl is said to be a "flirt". Moreover, she is considered like a prostitute even though she doesn't accumulate partners to accumulate money. She is said to be a prostitute because of the immorality of her conduct. Sometimes the family, unable to face the accusing gaze of others, changes the district. The girl's bad sexuality "offends the masculine pride of the family's men, it reduces these men to powerless males"[4].  

Yet, in the name of realism, men are adopting feminist attitudes to sex[5]. For these men, the premarital feminine sexuality is conceived in terms of rights or a fact that has to be admitted.  The girl who makes love in "a reasonable and respectable" manner is considered to be as virtuous as the one who does not make love. Sexual stability out marriage undermines social condemnation. It is, therefore possible to affirm that love has started to be more valued than virginity.

 

1-4 Virginity and artificial hymen 

 

Dialmy asserts that it is necessary to distinguish between koranic virginity and consensual virginity[6]. The first means that the girl doesn't have any sexual experience, while the second defines virginity as no defloration of the hymen. However, more and more young women are questioning the principle of virginity. Gynecologists attest the existence of numerous girls who are deflowered and not embarrassed at all not to be virgin[7], although opportunities of marriage decrease for these girls usually of modest social origin. These girls may opt for sexual work or for an artificial virginity. Indeed for the low classes and rural surroundings, consensual virginity is not a simple "bodily detail"; it is the only "capital ". In these surroundings, one even has to provide a certificate of virginity at the time of festivities of the marriage.

According to the Femmes du Maroc director, the repairing of the hymen would be the most frequent surgical "operation"[8]. It is a flourishing medical trade in the region Casablanca-Rabat, "between 500 and 600 $US the operation". Some generalist physicians would exercise the operation for derisory prices[9], 50/60 $US, but the suture doesn't hold and the husband realizes the subterfuge. For feminists, physicians who exercise the repairing of the hymen adhere objectively to a false notion of honor and, therefore, reinforce the patriarchal system[10]. Do they believe in this system indeed? Do they make the repairing to avoid the scandal to the girl, or do they do it for humanitarian reasons? Do they make it for merely financial interests?  

 

2- Single mothers 

 

The 1996 Casablanca and Rabat survey[11] on the lived conditions of single-mothers in Morocco shows that 68% of the mothers who abandon their children are aged between 15 and 24, they are all illiterate. Although they live in urban area, they originally come from rural area. They are usually either domestic or factory workers. 

Even though if the main concern of Islam is the child's legitimacy, the scholastic logic of the Moslem jurists' methodology prohibits them from legitimizing a posteriori the filiation: for them, the recognition of a natural child's legal filiation implies the legitimization of what it stands for, that is fornication. The jurists (foqaha) are, therefore, much more concerned with the punishment of fornication and its fruits rather than proving a natural filiation. For them, the central issue is the punishment of fornication within the rules of the Shari'a (Islamic Law) through the application of penalties (flogging or bet to death). As a determinant of the purity of lineage as well as the circulation of possessions, sex cannot be exercised outside the institution of marriage that precisely regulates lineage and possessions. Therefore, the natural child must remain a natural child so as not to sow the confusion of lineage and possessions[12]. 

As an extension of the Moslem law, the Personal Statute Code (Moudawwana) stipulates expressly (art. 38, al. 2) that the filiation outside marriage doesn't create any tie of relationship vis-à-vis of the biologic father and doesn't have any impact on the filiation. In other words, neither the Moslem law nor the Personal Statute Code do recognize to the natural child the right to institute a judicial suit in view to prove a filiation. The absence of such a possibility is in flagrant contradiction with the arrangements of the Convention of the child's Rights that recognize to the child the right to have a family, a name and an identity. This big hiatus increases the number of children victims and endorses the marginal status of the single-mother whose already precarious social situation is furthermore worsened by having to come up against numerous legal difficulties.  

In fact, the civil status is granted to the abandoned child according to two modes: the father is either identified as "unknown" or substituted by a cross where the father's name must be written down on the register of the civil status[13]. The natural child right to have a fictional patronymic name is ferociously refused by the Moslem jurist. On the other hand, a circular of the ministry of the interior allows the mother to give her own family name to her natural "child", but this possibility is conditioned by the single mother's paternal family males consent. With the absence of this consent, the child remains without a family name, and undergoes all the negative psychological and social consequences of an existence without name, that is to say without identity.

The stigma of the natural child starts right after his arrival to the world: single-mothers give birth to their children in separate rooms of the married women. After the childbirth, the personnel of health notify the case to the judicial police. Thus, the sanitary and judicial machine gets in march to exclude, even before the birth, the natural child and to transform into an abandoned child[14].  

The phenomenon of single mothers shows that the contraceptive education doesn't target this social category of socially modest girls. Certainly the contraceptive official message targets the married women in age of reproduction, the schooled girls usually benefit from an education on population that explains them the cycle of reproduction and that sensitizes them to the contraception use. Such an education is not developed enough by an informal education addressed to the non-schooled and dice-schooled girls.



[1] Extracted from my paper entitled « Sexuality and Sexual Health in Morocco », in "Challenges in Sexual and Reproductive Health: Technical Consultation on Sexual Health, OMS, Genève 2002.

[2] Azelmat, Ayad et Housni: Enquête de Panel sur la Population et la Santé (ENPS-II) 1995, Ministry of Health/Macro International Inc, Calverton, 1996.

[3] A. Dialmy: Identité masculine et santé reproductive au Maroc, MERC/Ford Foundation, 2000., p. 112.

[4] Ibid. p. 117.

[5] Ibid. p. 113-114.

[6] A. Dialmy: Jeunesse, Sida et Islam au Maroc, Casablanca, Eddif, 2000., p. 86 et 220.

[7] A. Dialmy: Sexualité et politique au Maroc, Rabat, FNUAP, 2000, pp. 17, 18, 35.

[8] Ibid. p. 43.

[9] Ibid. p. 43.

[10] Ibid. p. 44.

[11] Les filles-mères dans la réalité marocaine, AMSED, 1996

[12] Analyse de la situation des enfants au Maroc, UNICEF/Royaume du Maroc, 2001, p. 177.

[13] Ibid. p. 177.

[14] Ibid. p. 178.

Partager cet article

Repost 0

commentaires