Remembering Amina

I’m not sure how many of you have heard about Amina Al Filali. She’s a sixteen year old Moroccan girl who found herself in an unthinkable position.

At fifteen she was raped. And under current law, her rapist had the choice to go to prison or to marry her. He chose the latter and forced Amina into marriage.

Needless to say, the marriage was not a pleasant one.  It is not surprising that he was often violent. Amina’s mother told her to be patient with him. But this young girl’s patience ran out and she bought the rat poison that ended her life.

To our eyes and ears this story is absolutely outrageous. And it is. But it is true, and many are fighting to have this law, which is originally found in the Old Testament, be abolished. Here is an article discussing the latest developments of this movement.

This story has haunted me since the first moment I heard about it over a month ago. I most often like to celebrate and bring attention to the marvelous things about Morocco. It is a country I’ve visited many times. I’ve married into one of its wonderful families. But like every other nation of the world, it has its shortcomings. Some of them major – especially with regard to women’s rights.

Women are now being educated in Morocco. They are able to go to university as long as they’d like to at absolutely no cost to them. Although even with a university degree, there is no guarantee of employment. Getting a job is certainly not a guarantee for the older women who have not had the privilege of going to school at all.

The West’s recent interest in the wonders of Argan Oil helped Moroccan women for a little while at the women’s cooperatives. But then the men saw that there was money to be made and they got involved. The female workers in the co-ops are now being paid very little for their back breaking labour. The average daily wage for a woman working in an Argan co-op is 40 dirhams per day. That amounts to only $4.74 US for 10 or more hours of hard work. That’s barely enough for that woman to buy a simple lunch for her family.

We can’t imagine paying Saadia (our Production Manager) and her team anything less than we’d have to pay in Canada. Canadian wages go a long way in Morocco. And we hope that our company will go a long way in helping women who would otherwise be unemployed or painfully underpaid.

Amina deserved to have a chance to go to university. To get a job. To marry a kind man of her choosing.

All Moroccan women – all women period – deserve those choices. As Saadia Organics grows, so do the opportunities for women young and old in Morocco. Thanks for being a part of that.

joèl~