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03.04.2013 - News

Morocco: Child servants “Martyrs of indifference”

A child dies from her injuries

Khadija, Zineb and Fatima are all children that were forced to work as domestic servants and then tortured by their employers. Last Sunday, Fatima joined the grim list of victims. The young girl, who worked for a policeman and teacher, was burned across her chest, face and hands. Fatima finally succumbed to her injuries in the emergency room at Hassan II hospital in Agadir. Her killers tried to deny responsibility by claiming their maid had been the victim of a fall in the bathtub.

Protecting the victims

Unfortunately, this case in not at all an isolated one. It highlights yet again how children working as domestic servants are treated and also, according to the Moroccan press , the lax attitude taken by the judicial system towards those who kill child maids. In July 2011 in El Jadida, Khadija, barely ten years old, died after being tortured by the daughter of one of her employers. The accused was sentenced to ten years imprisonment. However, Article 392 of the Moroccan Penal Code states that “whoever intentionally kills another person is guilty of murder and is to be sentenced to life imprisonment”. In the summer of 2009 in Oujda, a local judge and his wife were implicated in the torture of the young Zineb. In the end, one has to wonder who was the luckiest: Zineb who miraculously survived her injuries, the husband who was declared innocent, or the wife who was sentenced to only three years in prison.

The International Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Morocco and therefore to be applied in its national legislation, strongly condemns such crimes. Tdh therefore has a strong basis for its arguments. First, families must end the practice of hiring children. Second, the government must actually implement existing child labor laws to give minors appropriate legal protection. Finally, every effort should be made in conjunction with Moroccan civil society to develop a real plan for protecting the child victims of labor exploitation.

In the image of child protection projects already implemented by Tdh in the regions of Agadir and Taroudant, the priority should be to establish a child protection system that is adopted at the national level. Tdh staff, in collaboration with partner association Oum El Banine, get involved with local associations, imams and officials so that they themselves can ensure that the most at-risk children are protected, that families can find other ways to survive, and that laws regulating work and protecting children are properly implemented. Currently, a network of local associations and organizations is engaged in advocacy with the Moroccan authorities, urging them to finalize and actually implement legislation, in particular the new law allowing labor inspectors to enter private homes to investigate violations.

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