The number of Moroccan women flocking to the islands of Ceuta and Melilla, occupied by Spain, has been remarkably increasing amid rising concerns on the part of rights groups over human trafficking activities.
Following the laws passed by the Spanish government bureau in Ceuta and Melilla, which regulate the work of maids and determine their rights; a large number of Moroccan women found in the offers they would get in the two islands a tempting opportunity.
Those laws, which apply to Moroccan women, determine the requirements a female applicant has to meet to work in domestic help like good reputation and residence in the nearby Moroccan city of Tétouan or neighboring towns.
According to the law, each maid should sign a contract that set working hours to be 20-40 per week. Each maid should also pay 20-45% of her salary to the Social Security Association.
In addition to working as maids, several Moroccan women cross to Ceuta and Melilla to work as baby-sitters and nurses for the elderly.
Leila, a Moroccan girl in her twenties, works at a house for the elderly in Ceuta, where she takes care of a Spanish old man.
“I was contacted by one of the agents who offered me the job for a decent salary and medical insurance,” she told Al Arabiya.
There is a huge difference, Leila added, between working as a maid in Spain and Morocco even if I work for a rich Moroccan family.
“In Ceuta and Melilla, maids have rights and this is not the case in Morocco.”
While Moroccan women see job opportunities in Ceuta and Melilla as excellent for making money under a good labor system; several rights groups have warned of the consequences of tempting Moroccan women to go to the two occupied islands.
According to Khaled al-Sharkawi, head of the Moroccan Human Rights Center, most of the offers Moroccan women get are suspicious and human trafficking networks might be behind them especially in cases of procuring minor women.
“Women might sign fake contracts and after they arrive at Ceuta and Melilla they are forced to work in other illegal jobs,” he told Al Arabiya.
Sharkawi explained that the economic slowdown through which Spain is going could drive many people to find illegal means of making money.
“They deceive girls into coming to Spain then make them work in prostitution.”
Sharkawi added that the Spanish government should take the necessary measures to protect those women through making sure they all have contracts that grant them all their social and legal rights.
“If those guarantees are not provided, girls can easily fall prey to sexual exploitation and human trafficking.”
It is not possible, Sharkawi added, to prevent Moroccan girls from working in Ceuta and Melilla as long as they are not minors.
“If work in Ceuta and Melilla is better than in Moroccan cities, they have the right to work there as long as the government assumes its responsibility towards them instead of treating them as a burden,” he concluded.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)