News / Africa

Single Mothers in Morocco Abandoned Thousands of Babies Each Year

Abandoned children sleep in an orphanage in Morocco
Abandoned children sleep in an orphanage in Morocco


Anne Look

Thousands of babies are abandoned in Morocco every year because their single mothers are too afraid to face family and friends. Instead of just taking in abandoned children, one nonprofit has begun working with families to help single mothers find ways to keep their babies.

At this center for abandoned children in Marrakech, kids play and sing with caretakers.

The home currently has about 60 children, between four-days and seven-years old. Many of them were born to single mothers who abandoned them at a young age.

Experts say it is a growing phenomenon in Morocco, where aid agencies estimate that more than 6,000 babies are abandoned at birth each year, roughly one in 50 babies born.

Having a child outside of marriage carries heavy stigma in the moderate Muslim country. Single mothers find it hard to turn to their friends and family for support, but a German-based group, The League for Child Protection, is seeking to change that.

The League runs this home for abandoned children in Marrakech and others like it around the country, but it is also working with single mothers and their families to try to prevent children from being abandoned in the first place.

The League's Director, Lamia Chrabi Lazreck, says they are making headway.

Lazrek says they have been doing mediation work with some of the parents of single mothers. He says sometimes they have also been able to mediate with the father of the child. He says they have found work for these women and offered to care for their babies temporarily at the center for three or four months so they may have some time to sort themselves out.

Most of the women who come to the center in Marrakech are below the age of 25, several of them are under 18.

One single mother said she is working with counselors to try to persuade the father of her two-year-old child, Maryam, to officially recognize the baby so she can have the legal status and rights of a legitimate child.

She says she wishes the administrative procedures for her daughter could be sorted out so she can live like any other child and have everything she needs. She says she does not want people pointing fingers at her. Our society, she says, is not very forgiving.

Moroccan law provides protection for single mothers, but entrenched cultural norms mean they still face enormous social barriers. Those who choose to keep their babies can be ostracized by family and friends and find it difficult to support themselves.

Despite important reforms to Morrocco's Family Code in 2004, the law provides little protection to single mothers who can still face criminal prosecution for having had sex outside of marriage.

UNICEF Representative to Morocco Aloys Kamuragiye applauded the intervention and support the League for Child Protection is giving mothers and their families.

He says it is a very interesting and important experiment the League is leading in Marrakech. He says it should be supported by all Moroccans and replicated throughout the country.

The League runs six other centers in Morocco. Aid agencies say government and societal support for the League's activities is growing, but much remains to be done.

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs